By Cesare Milanti / email@example.com
BOLOGNA, Italy – What would you do after marrying and going on a honeymoon? Probably relaxing before going back to working duties, right? Well, that was what Isaia Cordinier probably had in mind.
But then the call from Vincent Collet came. “Knowing that I wasn’t making the roster for the national team, I had the time to do basically everything I wanted to. I had my wedding, one of my best friend’s wedding, went on honeymoon as well, and then got the call from the national team too”, the French small forward commented to Eurohoops during Virtus Bologna’s EuroLeague Media Day.
The 27-year-old player was called up to replace the injured Frank Ntilikina and had the experience of his first-ever major International tournament with the French national team, playing in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, where he averaged 7.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists.
However, France couldn’t advance to the Final Phase, as they lost against both Canada and Latvia in Jakarta’s Group H, ending the tournament in 18th place. “It was kinda crazy, but I tried to enjoy every second of it, taking advantage of the opportunity that came, joining the national team despite the circumstances of having an injured brother. It turned from a dream to a nightmare really quickly, because of our performance in the World Cup, but it is what it is. I think it surely gonna help us for the next competition”, the former Nanterre 92’s player added.
Despite the final and sad outcome for France, he had the opportunity to play his first FIBA World Cup, bringing something home even though the circumstances weren’t ideal. “The best thing I learned is to not take anything for granted. It sounds very simple, but with the French national team we fought hard to reach the top levels, and as soon as you unconsciously relax a bit, this will come right back at you quickly”, he confessed to Eurohoops.
Another problem came for Vincent Collet’s national team, as the lack of motivation when playing the classification games was evident. “My personal situation when I got called up and had to be there, trying to perform and lose, but you’re still there: you have to play ranking games that nobody wants to play, but at the end of the day it’s basketball, and when you get there on those four lines you have to try anything to win. Despite the fucked up situation we had: nobody wanted to play those ranking games. But still, play, it’s still our passion”, Isaia Cordinier finally stated on his summer with France.
One eye in Virtus and the other at home
Touching once more on the French national team’s failure at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, one topic to be considered around what the future looks like for this country is related to the growth of its domestic league, the LNB. “The only way is up. We have to look forward, to look up and keep growing”, Isaia Cordiner first stated on it, having played at home for the first nine years of his professional career.
The small forward previously played for the Antibes Sharks, ALM Évreux, Denain-Voltaire, and Nanterre 92, catching a lot of attention all throughout Europe. “We’re probably the nation that gives the most talent out of their country: to the NBA, EuroLeague, and everywhere. In France, we have the chance to have this kind of talent, and the league needs to follow”, he said before praising the work of some French organizations.
“With teams like AS Monaco, ASVEL, and Paris Basketball, it’s going in the right direction, because they’re the face of the league, and they can show example by growing the professionalism of the teams”, he added. “The LNB needs to follow as well: they need to make smart decisions to let the league grow. If you want to shine on the highest levels, whether it’s EuroCup, BCL, or EuroLeague, the league that you’re in has to allow you to be efficient, to be bigger, and to perform, giving the best teams that are doing the job the opportunities to do it”, Isaia Cordiner also commented.
Most importantly, this will be his third season with Virtus Bologna, after coming to Italy in October 2021 to help Sergio Scariolo’s team make a statement in the EuroCup, winning it all against Frutti Extra Bursaspor to make the jump to the EuroLeague.
In his first season with the black-and-white team in the most prestigious European competition, Isaia Cordinier struggled with injuries and could play only 19 games, averaging 6.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game.
A new era with Luca Banchi on the bench is opening now. “It was a crazy last few days here, but the main focus will be on us. How we build the energy, the chemistry, and how we work basically on a daily basis to be ready to perform and go against anybody. That’s our mindset, the way we approach every practice and every game. We prepare to be ready and beat anybody”, the French player commented.
Only a few days after these words, Virtus Bologna won the first Italian derby of the season against Milano and dismantled Brescia in the final of the 2023 Italian Supercup, winning the third consecutive after being champions in 2021 and 2022 as well.
Isaia Cordinier contributed with 11.0 points per game in the two encounters, always bringing energy to Luca Banchi’s team. Talking about the newest Virtus Bologna’s head coach, Isaia Cordinier had nothing but great words. “It’s good to see how he approaches the game and how he approaches the chemistry of the team. I’m looking forward to building with him and with the guys out there on the floor, trying to be as confident as we can”, he said.
Being included by the Latvian national team’s head coach in the list of players from whom he expects a stepping-up personality-wise, Isaia Cordinier feels more than ready to go with Virtus Bologna in both LBA and Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. “I had a good summer and a good preparation, so I’m ready for the challenge and for what’s coming in the new season”, he finally stated ahead of the 2023-24 season.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Virtus Segafredo Bologna