France tipped off their second stage of 2023 World Cup Qualifiers in resounding fashion by laying a 95-60 smack down on the Czech Republic.
Despite being without Tomas Satoransky, Jaromir Bohacik and Vit Krejci, the Czech Republic carried a 42-38 lead into the half, but the French defense choked out the Czech offense in the second half, only allowing 18 points. The Czech Republic were outscored 60-20 in the painted area and shot a frigid 35.5% from the field.
The second half was delayed due to an issue with one of the baskets that apparently stemmed from a monster jam from Rudy Gobert at the end of the half. Once play resumed, France came out sharp, going on an 18-2 run to take a 56-44 advantage halfway through the third quarter.
“The long halftime was good for us, probably helped us find our minds again. We started completely different – our aggressiveness level was much higher, and they couldn’t handle it. We got some steals and some rhythm thanks to the good defense. And that made the difference.”Vincent Collet, France
Guerschon Yabusele and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot lead five French players in scoring with 16 points each. Rudy Gobert scored 14 points I grabbed 7 rebounds and swatted 2 shots in his 19 minutes of work. In a losing effort,Vojtech Hruban had 14 points and Ondrej Balvin scored 12 points to go along with 7 rebounds.
Up next for the French team, who are 6-1 in Group K play, is a trip to Sarajevo to take on Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday. The Czech Republic now 3-4 in group play host Hungary Saturday in what amounts to a must-win game.