France national team in 1919
Rise and decline (1919–1979)
Throughout its history, France's national basketball team has experienced many ups and downs. The time periods where the national team earned medals have been quite streaky.
In Europe, team France started out as a fierce competitor. The team won 5 medals at the
FIBA EuroBasket between 1937 and 1959.
1937: Bronze Medal, 3–2 overall, second in preliminary group, lost semifinal, won bronze medal match
1947: Silver Medal, 5–1 overall, round robin tournament, no playoffs
1949: Bronze Medal; 6–3 overall, second in preliminary group at 3–1, won semifinal group in three-way tie-breaker with 2–1 record, lost semifinal, won bronze medal match
1953: Bronze Medal, 6–4 overall, second in preliminary group at 2–1, second position of four-way tiebreaker for 2nd place in final round with 4–3 record.
1959: Bronze Medal, 7–3 overall, second in preliminary group at 3–1, first in Semi-final round at 3–0, third in final round with 1–2 record.
Its period of glory at the world stage began in the late 1940s / early 1950s. At the
1948 Olympics in London, the France team led by
Robert Busnel won an Olympic silver medal, the first Olympic medal in its history. The French finished second only to the
United States. In the wake of this Olympic medal, France, led by captain
André Vacheresse, won three consecutive medals, including silver at the
EuroBasket 1949, and bronze at the
EuroBasket 1951 and the
The following years were less glorious. France's basketball team seemingly declined gradually to disappear almost completely from the two major world competitions during the 1960s and 1970s.
Generation of hope (1980–1989)
After the disappointing 60s and 70s, the 1980s were marked by a generation of hope, counting in its ranks French basketball icons such as
Stephane Ostrowski and
Herve Dubuisson. During this decade, France returned to the Olympics (
1984), and the
1986 FIBA World Championship.
Success returns, despite internal struggles (1990–2000)
During the 1990s Team France had its moments to shine despite some internal struggles and many injuries for key players. At the European meetings, the team did not win a medal despite some good performances. The years 1999 and 2000, however, marked a turnaround for French basketball. The team built around
Foirest finished in the top 4 at the
EuroBasket 1999 in France and only lost the bronze medal final to
Yugoslavia (74–62), despite some internal problems that disrupted the group of players. In 2000, team France traveled to the
Olympics in Sydney, full of ambition, which developed the means for major achievement. At the end of its time in Australia, the selection of
Jean-Pierre de Vincenzi won the Olympic
silver medal, the selection's first top 3 performance at a major basketball event in 46 years and its first Olympic medal in 52 years.
Tony Parker joins the team (2001–2002)
After this event, the Olympic vice-champion gained new backbone in
Tony Parker who was selected by the
San Antonio Spurs in the
2001 NBA draft. However, at the
EuroBasket 2001, without Rigaudeau, who surprisingly decided to retire from the team after the Olympics, the 19-year-old Parker alone was not enough as France failed to repeat its outstanding performance at the Olympic Games. France lost the quarter-finals to
Germany 77–81 and finished 6th place overall. During this time, most of France's players cleared their spots for a new generation of players, which were available in abundance as France Junior national team had won the 2000 junior championship.
Setback despite abundance of talent (2003–2004)
EuroBasket 2003, France competed with an immensely talented squad, which included the NBA players
Jérôme Moïso and
Tariq Abdul-Wahad, future NBA-player
Boris Diaw and Euroleague players
Cyril Julian and
Florent Piétrus. The stated objective was the title, which would come as the second within a short time-period to Tony Parker who had won the NBA title only a few months ago. But despite competing with one of the most promising rosters ever, France lost in the semifinal against
Lithuania and then also barely lost the match for 3rd place against
Italy, which France had declassified in the preliminary round. At the end, France even failed to qualify for the
2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
Restructuring and improved performance (2005)
Hoping not to repeat the disappointing performance of 2003, France's squad again saw some considerable changes in 2005. Then, for the
EuroBasket 2005 team France was built based on team chemistry instead of big names; Amongst others, Jérôme Moïso and Tariq Abdul-Wahad disappeared from the roster and the newly formed team was built on the three NBA players Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, and
Mickaël Piétrus as well as the returning
Antoine Rigaudeau. The new coach
Claude Bergeaud, surprisingly also selected
Frédéric Weis, an underachieving player once drafted at the
1999 NBA Draft, who did not participate the team's preparation. After a sobering first round, team France improved to stunning performances in the playoffs. First, France eliminated world champion
Serbia-Montenegro on their home court, then the team defeated the European champion
Lithuania. Then, in a semi-final game against
Greece where both side battled each other through tough defense, France failed in the last second after leading by seven points, 45 seconds before the game ended. Unlike 2003, however, France recovered to win a bronze medal by beating Spain in the small final by more than thirty points.
Continued title aspirations (2006–2010)
World Championship 2006 France competed without Tony Parker, who suffered a twisted finger two days before the competition. Because of this, the
San Antonio Spurs, who just signed Parker with a 51 million Euros contract did not allow him to participate. After a first round marked by three wins and two losses, including a downfall to
Lebanon, France beat
Angola in the eighth-finals 68–62 before losing in the quarterfinals against Greece 56–73. Two victories in classification matches finally granted the French the fifth place.
FIBA EuroBasket 2007, France fell behind its aspirations again. After a strong preliminary round, the team was eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual champion
Russia (75–71), then was beaten in the classification games by
Croatia (86–69) and
Slovenia (88–74), finishing in 8th place, missing for the second consecutive time the Olympic Games. In the following months, the team had to go through the ordeal of qualifications to participate in the next
FIBA EuroBasket which was to be held in 2009. In 2008,
Michel Gomez returned as coach, a position he has held between 1993 and 1995. As Gomez failed to help the team qualify directly for the European Championship and had to enter a repechage tournament in August 2009 he was replaced by
Vincent Collet, coach of
Under Collet's direction, the Bleus won the last ticket to the
FIBA EuroBasket 2009 by trashing
Belgium 92–54 in the final game of the repechage. At the European Championship, France won its first six games of the first two rounds but failed in the quarterfinals against the eventual tournament Champion
Spain. Spain ended fourth of their group during the main round due to two defeats, against Serbia in the first round, and Turkey in the second. One main reason for these defeats was certainly the absence of star-player
Pau Gasol who missed these games due to finger surgery. The French finally finished in fifth place, a performance which would grant the team the direct qualification for the next two major competitions, the
World Championship 2010 and
FIBA EuroBasket 2011.
Rise to the world elite (2011–present)
Led by extraordinary performances by the iconic
Tony Parker, France finished 2nd at the
FIBA EuroBasket 2011, its best performance in Europe in over 60 years. Two years later, on 22 September 2013, France beat Lithuania 80–66 to win the 2013 EuroBasket title, its first continental crown. Parker was named the tournament's most valuable player.
In the summer of 2017, the French team has been composed of 37 players who have all signed an engagement contract that engages them until the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.