France U23’s are set to return to the Men’s U23 World Championships stage for the first time since hosting the event in Paris in 2009.
They are coming off of a fifth-place finish at the 2017 U22 European Championships, and we spoke to the captain, Alexis Ramonet, about his and the team’s expectations for the upcoming tournament.
21-year-old Alexis has been playing wheelchair basketball for 14 years. He currently plays for the French team Hornets Le Cannet. When asked how he feels about representing his country at the U23 World Championships, he replied, “I feel very proud and honoured to be able to represent my country because we worked hard to qualify. The last time France qualified for the World’s was 12 years ago, which is a long time. It will be my first and last World’s competition as a junior so I am even more happy.
“Participating at the U23 World Championships as a young player is very important for me because I really hope the team and I will be able to inspire and motivate other young players in France, to eventually start wheelchair basketball and work hard to join the national team.”
Alexis, who is a 4-point classified player, continued, “The team’s aims for the Championships are really simple, to play in the quarter finals and from there doing the best we can.
“There are really great teams in our group. We have been trying to find some solutions from the mistakes we made when we played against Germany or Great Britain for example, and we don’t know the other teams in our group (Japan, USA, South Africa), so we can’t really tell who will be our strongest opponents, but I personally see USA and Turkey as the favourites to win the tournament.”
He explained how the team has been preparing in the build-up to the tournament, “The team has had camps and a friendly tournament with Germany. Most of the players in our team are part of the national academy so they train together every day. For the rest, they had trainings with their home club.”
The camaraderie, not only within his own team, but also with the other teams is something that is very important to Alexis, he said, “I’m again looking forward to experience the great atmosphere between the teams, even if it’s a competition we become friends with some players and teams and we cheer each other on.
“Also, I always have a great time with my own teammates because we’re really close. It’s going to be the first time in Canada for many of us and we’ve heard a lot of good things about this country so we can’t wait to discover it!”