'I was sure he won't make the roster': the big French surprise

Donatas Urbonas
Senior Staff Writer
2022-09-04 13:47

The French wing Terry Tarpey became a French national team sensation this summer by showing an example of how to become a part of winning ball without scoring the most points.

Credit: FIBA

When the French newcomer showed up in the national team camp, the New York Knicks star Evan Fournier was sure he wouldn't make the final roster.

On top of that, his head coach didn't really believe that's the guy he'll bring to the EuroBasket 2022.

But Terry Tarpey became the biggest French basketball summer surprise.

Player of the Game
Evan  Fournier
EFF
23
Evan Fournier
Points 27
Accuracy 9-20
Rebounds 5
Assists 3

Le Mans' wing played a massive role in the first win at EuroBasket when his teammates faced a 35-year low.

France didn't start the major FIBA competition with two consecutive losses since 1987. But in Round 2 against Lithuania, they were pushed to the ropes. Lithuania had the lead for more than 29 minutes of the game.

Tarpey played 21 minutes, scored 8 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, had the second-best 16 EFF, and made some crucial defensive stops to boost French to a win over Lithuania.

He stopped Lithuanian floor general Rokas Jokubaitis and distracted the offensive flow that opponents had opened the game.

Only long-time French core players Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, and Guerschon Yabusele played more minutes than Tarpey.

"I'm not going to lie. When the first group of players for the preparation came out in July, in my head, I was already thinking of a final roster. And I said to myself: for sure he's gone," Fournier revealed after the game.

"Man, he has so much heart. He plays for the team. He gives everything he has. Tonight was a big step for him. It was his first start, putting him in the intensive game. He's obviously not used to that kind of intensity and high-pressure game. But he played his best game with the French national team. He gave his all," the top French scorer (27 PTS) was proud of his teammate.

"To be honest, even more than that, for us to succeed, we need to understand that he is the perfect example of how to play winning ball. We need guys like him. And on top of that, he made shots. So it's like a cherry on top," Fournier smiled.

"He played a great game. I'm happy for him. I hope he'll keep playing with that intensity throughout the tournament."

Credit FIBA

Tarpey was born in France but left for the United States early and doesn't speak French fluently.

Coach Pascal Donnadieu found and brought him to the second French division in 2016.

Since 2017 he played for Le Mans -- a borderline French playoff team, which his dad also represented in his playing years.

Tarpey never played in the EuroLeague or the EuroCup. He has only one year of Basketball Champions League experience.

That wasn't the portfolio you can find on the Olympic finalists' roster.

But now French national team head coach Vincent Collet also puts him as an example. 

"I must recognize that when I made the first 17-man list, I didn't think he would be part of the final team. I wasn't sure at all," Collet said.

"For sure, he had a chance, but when he arrived at the camp in the first games, he gave us an idea that he could be a piece. To build a new team, and it's a new one, it's very important that everybody can find their role," the coach added.

"Tarpey always goes all out. He is restless, knows his role, and plays it to perfection. We need players like that to be a better team. Not everyone will be able to shine and play their most productive basketball. Looking for it would be a mistake," Collet also said about Tarpey after his final selection to the 12-man roster.

Collet also praised Moustapha Fall and Andrew Albicy, who combined only for 8 points, but played a crucial role in turning the game around.

France is 1-1 after two games but found winning ball footsteps when it was the time to step up.

"We knew nothing was going to be easy when we saw our group. Whenever we 0-1, 0-2, or 0-3, the most important thing is the next game. Now we're 1-1. What does that mean? The mindset we have is the most important thing. We have to keep fighting," Rudy Gobert said to BasketNews.

"The thing that we're most proud of is that we got better from the last game. Now we have to get better for tomorrow's game and then get better every game and see where it goes," the Minnesota Timberwolves center added.



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