France's national basketball program has acquired insurance to cover its senior men's team for the 2011 EuroBasket tournament in Lithuania beginning in August, according to a report on FIBA.com. That means San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker and Portland Trail Blazers wing Nicolas Batum will be able to suit up for Les Bleus as France attempts to earn a valuable early berth to the 2012 London Olympics.
Two tickets to London will be punched in Lithuania, with the two finalists in the 24-team field eligible for the Olympics. Great Britain, the 2012 host squad, is the only European team with a berth to the 12-team Olympic tournament. The United States has the only other spot currently guaranteed thanks to its top finish at the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
The FIBA.com report keeps Joakim Noah's availability in question; the Chicago Bulls center will await a decision while his agent reviews a medical report from the French team. The report says that the medical was also sent to the Bulls, but under the NBA lockout, it's not clear league officials will allow Chicago to communicate with Paris regarding their thoughts on Noah competing.