San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker led the sixth place French team in points (94), shot attempts (81) and minutes (181) at the London Olympics last year -- all of which asserts his all-encompassing role in the offense, even if he's aging on the wrong side of 30. Parker didn't lead the team in assists -- Boris Diaw chipped in seven more -- but the offense's efficacy still hinged on his calculated penetration.
Parker will headline this year's squad at EuroBasket in Slovenia, too. The French national team is teaming with NBA caliber talent, and the development of the youger players (Nando De Colo, Nicolas Batum, Kevin Seraphin and Mickael Gelabale, to name a few) is a massive priority, since the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will likely be Parker's final international competition.
As he prepares to match the record 's Hervé Dubuisson with seven Euros played under the tricolor jersey, Tony Parker reiterated that he intended to play in the national team until 2016 before bowing out.
Parker hasn't shown any tangible sign of regression, but that gradual descent happens to every player. It's happening to Manu Ginobili, and the ugly side of aging manifested itself in a nasty way for Tim Duncan in 2010-11 (though he's regained his normal efficiency in a reduced spate of minutes). It's also precisely why the French coaching staff will dial Parker's minutes down until the latter stages of the tournament, when winning is of the utmost importance.
"The staff wants to build on what Pop did with the Spurs: play me ten minutes per game preparation," Parker said. "The most important thing is that I am well at the European Championships and not in friendly matches. "
For the time being, however, both France and San Antonio will reap the benefits of employing one of the most devastating open court threats in basketball.