Wembanyama stars for France; Ukraine's World Cup hopes end
France has already qualified for this summer's Basketball World Cup. And Victor Wembanyama offered another reminder that his nation is going to be a medal favorite.
The 7-foot-3 phenom had 22 points, 17 rebounds, six blocks and four steals in leading France past the Czech Republic 72-59 on Thursday at Pardubice, Czech Republic, in the next-to-last World Cup qualifying game for both teams.
In three games with the French national team, Wembanyama is averaging 20.3 points, 10 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.3 steals per game — while playing only 26 minutes, on average, in those contests. He's presumed to be the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft, and it continues being easy to see why.
“Victor showed his amazing talent and why he's considered one of the best players in the world," Tomas Kyzlink of the Czech Republic said.
The Czechs had previously been eliminated from World Cup contention.
That didn't stop them from coming out flying, building a 30-11 lead with 8:59 left in the first half. The lead was 36-21 late in the half — but France outscored the hosts 51-23 over the final 22 minutes.
Kyzlink led the Czech Republic with 23 points and Patrik Auda scored 10. Paul Lacombe scored 13 for France, while Yoan Makoundou added 10.
Italy pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Ukraine 85-75 on Thursday. The loss ended war-torn Ukraine's hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.
Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Montenegro 74-66; Georgia topped Netherlands 88-80; Lithuania rolled past Hungary 89-64; Spain downed Iceland 80-61.
Japan topped Iran 96-61; Australia eased past Bahrain 83-51; China downed Kazakhstan 71-59.
Europe: Finland at Israel, Slovenia at Estonia, Latvia at Turkey, Serbia at Greece, Sweden at Germany, Belgium at Great Britain.
Asia: Saudi Arabia at New Zealand, Lebanon at Philippines, Jordan at India.
Africa: Cameroon vs. Congo at Egypt, Nigeria vs. Ivory Coast at Angola, South Sudan vs. Senegal at Egypt, Cape Verde vs. Guinea at Angola, Tunisia at Egypt, Uganda at Angola
Clinched World Cup berths: Finland, Latvia, Germany, Greece, Slovenia, France, Lithuania, Spain, Italy.
Still in contention (three spots left): Serbia, Belgium, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Georgia, Iceland.
Eliminated: Turkey, Great Britain, Sweden, Israel, Estonia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Ukraine.
Clinched World Cup berths: Philippines, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Australia, China.
Still in contention (2 spots left): Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kazakhstan.
Eliminated: Bahrain, India.
Clinched World Cup berths: Ivory Coast.
Still in contention (4 spots left): South Sudan, Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Congo, Angola, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Guinea.
Eliminated: Cameroon, Uganda.