Projected No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama neared a double-double in his debut with the French national team on Friday in a qualifier for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Wembanyama produced 20 points, nine rebounds, one assist and one steal as France improved to 7-2 in the qualifiers with a 90-65 win over Lithuania. He shot 6-of-13 from the field and 7-of-7 from the free-throw line in 23 minutes of action.
The 7-foot-4 center proved to be dominant in the paint as Lithuania had no answer for him. He had several putbacks after hauling in four offensive rebounds and even connected on a 3-pointer in the second half as France coasted to the win.
Wembanyama, 18, was set to debut with France over the summer in EuroBasket but was eventually ruled out of playing due to what the team labeled as a muscle injury. He now figures to be in France’s long-term plans in international competition.
With the win, France moved into first place in Group K over Lithuania, who is also 7-2. The top three teams will advance from each group as France will face Bosnia and Herzegovina next on Monday to close out the fifth window of qualifying. The final window will take place Feb. 20-28.
The 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup will run from Aug. 25-Sept. 10.
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