Thomas Heurtel removed from French national team after he signs with Russian basketball club
French basketball body says point guard will not play in future tournaments as long as 33-year-old is part of Zenit Saint Petersburg
Frenchman Thomas Heurtel is facing a ban Thursday from his country after the experienced point guard signed with Russian basketball club Zenit Saint Petersburg.
The French Basketball Federation (FFBB) said they saw on Twitter that Zenit acquired Heurtel after the 33-year-old signed a "sworn statement" at the end of July, before the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 tournament, that he was not engaged and did not plan to sign with a Russian or Belarussian club because of Moscow's war against Ukraine.
Heurtel, a regular for the national team, joined Zenit on a 1+1 deal days after the end of EuroBasket 2022. But the former Barcelona and Real Madrid point guard's future with the French national team is in jeopardy.
"If Thomas Heurtel were to play with the Zenit club, this commitment would not be respected, the playmaker would then no longer respect the selection criteria for the next international events, including the 2024 Olympic Games, in accordance with the decision taken by Federal Bureau on July 28," according to FFBB.
Before the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, FIBA World Cup 2023 will be played as France are still in the qualifying round for the next year's world championship.
Heurtel previously played for Pau-Orthez, and ASVEL in France, and Spain's Baskonia, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
He was an Anadolu Efes guard during the 2014 – 2017 seasons and last season played for Real Madrid.
Heurtel has been a longtime France player as he helped Les Bleus win the EuroBasket 2013 title.
He won bronze at the 2014 FIBA World Cup and an Olympic silver medal in Tokyo 2020 last summer.
France and Heurtel won silver at the EuroBasket 2022 after Spain beat Les Bleus 88-76 in the final Sept. 18 in Berlin.