Versatility of Suns star Diaw to come in handy for France

PARIS (Ticker) - There may be a constant debate as to Boris Diaw’s best position, but what is not in question is the France captain’s effectiveness on the court.

The versatile Diaw, who is equally adept at guard, forward or center, will guide Les Bleus into the World Championships on the heels of a terrific EuroBasket in Belgrade and a superb season with the Phoenix Suns.

Averaging 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists in the 2005-06 campaign following his move from Atlanta Hawks, the 6-8 Diaw picked up the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.

Diaw, who is set to be just as integral for France in Japan, attributed his versatility to his experiences off the court.

“In life, I have adapted easily to different situations,” said Diaw, who started at least one game in all five positions for Phoenix last season. “It is the same on the court.”

Diaw played every game last season for the Suns, who made it to the Western Conference finals, where they lost to Dallas Mavericks.

He admits the team’s style of play has taken its toll.

“The way we play is particularly tiring because we run a lot and we play a lot on the counterattack,” he added in L’Equipe. “And we often play with just six or seven players in our squad.”

France’s form in the warmup games ahead of the World Championships has been encouraging, although it did suffer its first defeat of the summer when it lost to Greece, 70-56, in the final of the Acropolis Tournament.

Diaw believes France will show a united front in Japan.

“It is a very close squad,” he said. “It is like this because it has been in place for 10 years. “We like being together and we have one common goal.”

Claude Bergeaud is trying to make his team less inhibited and Diaw backs his coach’s simple outlook.

“He always wanted us to play an expansive game but after thinking we could not do it, we now know it is possible,” he said. “That has always been his philosophy: you penetrate, you pass. If you do not have any help, you go to the basket.

“When you pass to someone who is all alone, if a defender gets on to him and if he sees someone all alone next to him, he passes to him. That is his philosophy.”

France has arrived in China, where it will play in the Stankovic Cup from Saturday to Tuesday.

Greece will be first up for Les Bleus before they take on Australia.

France has been drawn in World Championship Group A alongside defending champions Serbia & Montenegro, Olympic champions Argentina, Venezuela, Nigeria and Lebanon.

France’s first game in the competition is against Argentina on August 19.


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Updated Wednesday, Aug 9, 2006