PARIS (2010 FIBA World Championship) - Nicolas Batum is one of the rising stars in international basketball and on Sunday, the Portland Trail Blazers forward firmly declared that he will represent France this summer at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
France will not only have Batum but a host of other youngsters that make Les Bleus one of the most dangerous teams at the tournament.
Batum missed the first half of the NBA season following shoulder surgery but returned to the line-up and helped fire the Blazers into the play-offs.
His shoulder started to bother him again late in the campaign but the 21-year-old, who started for the Blazers in his second year and averaged 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds, refused to come out of the line-up.
Now he is determined to wear the French shirt.
"My decision is definite,” he said at Bercy, where he watched the French Cup Finals over the weekend.
“I will be present in the French squad for the World Championship. To join the national team again was a big desire after we (I) made our (my) debut at the EuroBasket.
“I had a worry about my shoulder but the Portland executives told me that I would be better off being with France than spending the summer working individually with the franchise."
France are also expected to have one of this year’s rookie sensations, Rodrigue Beaubois of the Dallas Mavericks, with the country also hopeful that center Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls will play.
Nando De Colo of Eurocup winners Power Electronics Valencia and Antoine Diot of Le Man will, in addition to Beaubois, give France one of the best backcourts in Group D where they will compete against Spain, Lithuania, New Zealand, Canada and Lebanon.
France discovered last week that center Ronny Turiaf of the Golden State Warriors and guard Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs would not play this summer in Turkey.
The French Basketball Federation showed its support for both players and thanked them for their commitment to the national side and indicated both were still a big part of the squad moving forward.