Joakim Noah set to return to French national team

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It’s not a real EuroBasket without Joakim Noah.

Okay, it’s going on with or without him. Two spots in the London 2012 Olympics will be decided whether or not he plays. But the chances of the French landing one of those two spots (or one of the play-in spots in next summer’s pre-Olympic tournament) goes up with him there.

And he will be there, reports the French team’s official Web site (via the Associated Press).

‘After seeing the conclusions from the two specialists, the franchise (Chicago Bulls) doctor should give his accord for Joakim Noah to return to the France team, without having to go to Chicago,” the FFBB said Monday on its website….

‘There’s been good progress, and Joakim seems to have recovered well from the little problem he had,” France team director Patrick Beesley said. ”I am optimistic that he will be in Pau by the end of the week.”

Noah sprained his ankle in March and missed six games but came back for the stretch run and played through pain during the playoffs. After he reported to training camp with the French national team, they sent him to get more rest and treatment.

EuroBasket is going to be deep with good teams, but the French will put out a good squad. The likely starting lineup will be Noah, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum and Mickael Pietrus, with Ronny Turaif the first guy off the bench. EuroBasket tips off Aug. 31 with France facing Latvia in its first game.