We talked with Gerard Girier-Dufournier (184-G-79), guard from JS Vallee-du-tir and member of the National Team. We asked hil about his experience in the Mini-Games in Palau and about the future of New Caledonia basketball.
Gerard Girier-Dufournier (184-G-79)
Guard born in 1979
team: JS Vallee-du-tir
member of the National Team for the 2005 South Pacific Mini-Games (Gold medal)
How was the come-back in New Caledonia after the Games? How did the people react?
We received a warm welcome back home. Basketball was the last sport played in Palau and everybody was hoping we would bring the cherry on the cake! All the crowd and the other caledonian athletes were around the court, this really pushed us to get this final game.
In Palau everybody was feeling that you really dominated the Games? Did you and your teamates fell the same way?
It's true. Maybe we were a little better than our opponents but the coach (Angelo Francois-Eloice NDLR) really helped us with his experience. He was always telling us that a game is never over until the final buzzer rang. We were together with my teamates. Everybody knew what should he do and when. But we were the team to beat, everybody was looking to defeat our side.
Which side of the game is New Caledonia's greatest weapon? Height, tactics, shooting skills?
We were able to play every types of game there. When we played Fiji in the pool they wanted to make a physical game but we were able to respond. When an other team wanted to play a tactical game we were also able to respond. I think that we were playing each game in a different way, depending on our opponent. But Angelo Francois-Elocie really was the main man, he was very professional. Our medal belongs to our coach because he was the only one who played with a full 12-man squad. Everybody played in each game, the easy ones but also the close ones. He really trusted us and knew how to motivate our team.
Fabrice Chaliot was the team's leading scorer. What is his influence in the team?
Fabrice Chaliot is the BOSS, he's our leader, an experienced player who is always playing hard night in and night out. He's our go-to-guy. He says that once you step on a basketball court, you are there to fight until the last moments. Until the final buzzer a game isn't over, victory comes after 40 minutes.
No teams from the South Pacific seems able to beat New Caledonia, except maybe an hypothetical full-strenght Fiji team. Do you think New Caledonia is ready to play against New Zealand and Australia?
I was talking about that with our coach and he was saying that with our players who are based in France we would be able to resist during 2 maybe 3 quarters but not during a full-game. We can compare our level to the french third division, we are not playing as much as they are and we don't have the same facilities. We are just a small country and Australia and New Zealand are two real basketball powerhouses. Unfortunatly I think that we would never be able to compete with these countries. But who knows...
New Caledonia received the rights to host the South Pacific Games in 2011. I think this would be a nice goal for you, you would be 32 by then.
It's true that it would be an honor to play in front of your homecrowd but I will be there only if my love for the game and my level of play remains the same. If one day I feel that I do not belong anymore to the National Team, I would step down and watch the youngsters play. I will have to stop one day and I'm already thinking of that.
With your team JS Vallee