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“You are playing for your country,” said Noah, who led the University of Florida to two NCAA titles. He said his father, former tennis star Yannick Noah, was among the French fans banging drums and wearing flags and national colors. “My father really wanted me to come here and play for France. I’m very happy to play for France here.”

Along with other players, Noah notes the unique aspects of the European game, which has no three seconds-in-the-key rule. “Teams can really clog up the middle more than in the NBA. The game is a lot more slowed down, a lot more physical than people realize. It’s very, very different than the NBA.”

He says that even the French, from a culture that values individual flair, are playing a European-style team game. “Everybody’s playing for the right reasons. There’s no selfishness.”