Before the upcoming South-Pacific Mini-Games in Palau this summer (25 july - 4 august), the caledonian newspaper "Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes" catch up with the National Team Head-Coach Angelo Francois-Elocie to make an interesting interview.
Angelo Francois-Elocie (197cm) was born in Noumea in 1963, he's the head coach of the New Caledonia NT and also supervisor of the Youth Tournaments. He started playing basketball at 17, he was selected in the NT in 1979 and played 4 South-Pacific Games (1983, 87, 95, 99). He played in France for 10 years including 4 season in the first division and european cup. As a coach he drove Caledonia to the gold medal at the SPG 2003 in Fiji and to the gold at the Oceania tournament also in Fiji. He was the coach of the Oceania All-Stars Men squad in 2005.
Three monthes ahead the South Pacific Mini-Games, how is the Caledonia NT right now?
Pretty good. We'll leave next week for a camp in New Zealand. We add some youngsters to the squad but we would need to play the best we can to keep or gold medal. This is going to be tough.
Caledonia's results at the 2004 OBC Youth were not encouraging.
We finished at the 5th place. This might be disapointing at the first sight but we were #3 of the small country behind Fiji and Guam (Ndlr: Australia and New Zealand played the final). For us that was good.
The National Teams results are much better like the club ones, like in the last Pacific Champions Cup, Why?
I'm asking a lot to my players and sometimes they can't play for their club, unlike the tahitian who always came out with a full-strenght squad.
How are the training sessions going?
I try to do here what I was doing in France. We had 4 training sessions per week. This means a lot of effort but when your body is used to play again and agin, you get better. At the Mini-Games, we would play like every days so my players needs to train very hard.
How do you pick your players?
I like to have nimbles point-guards. The forwards and the centers should be able to play against the samoans and the fijians. But nothing comes without a good spirit and a good team chemistry, these are the major points.
Caledonian center Rodrigue Teitannanuarii is currently playing with Boulazac in France and would reach the french 2nd division next season. What do you think of this?
I was bless to play for Monaco's Youth teams in France. After that I played in the first division, this was really a great level. Teitannanuarii is doing great things, he could be proud of himself. I played with him and I was his coach, he's got a promising future. But he would need to be strong because it's hard to play far from home.
Why isn't there more caledonians who are playing overseas?
The level of play in France is very strong. To play in France, a player need to be known by the coaches because this is an expensive trip. And we never know if a player would be able to leave his homeland without being homesick. This is a hard road, nothing is easy.
After 10 years in France, you should have many memories...
My best ones are in Monaco, like when we played the Coupe des As and when we played the european cup. And all the wonderful trips, we were always travelling by plane, this was a great time. Monaco is a very rich city, our stadium was fully equiped with air conditionning and all the cool stuffs. It was unique.
And the bad memories?
My last year at Bayonne. We managed to bring the team to the third division but the team ended my three-year contract and I came back in Caledonia earlier than I expected. This was really a shock. But finally this was a good thing because I was able to help the federation her