Barbosa and M'Baye dominate as France, Australia secure FIBA World Cup berths
France punched their ticket to 2019 FIBA World Cup on Friday as they produced a storming finish to defeat Czech Republic.
Winners of the bronze medal last time out in 2014, Les Bleus trailed 65-61 in the fourth quarter but delivered an 18-0 run to finish the Group K clash and prevail 79-65.
With a number of nations needing to compete in qualifiers without NBA talent, Amath M'Baye scored a team-high 18 points on his international debut. The Virtus Bologna power-forward also contributed five assists for Vincent Collet's men as they joined Czech Republic in the finals in China.
"I'm really happy with the commitment of the team, the unselfish way in which we played," Collet said. "We had 28 assists, which is something really amazing on the road. It says a lot about the spirit we have."
Russia are third in France's group after a 77-75 win overtime win over Finland, inspired by a 26-point, seven-rebound display from Dmitry Kulagin. Meanwhile Bulgaria bolstered their prospects by defeating Bosnia-Herzegovina 89-82.
Serbia, finalists in 2014, saw their hopes dented by an 83-74 loss to Israel in Group L, while Georgia defeated Estonia 80-73 and Greece overcame Germany 92-84 in a meeting of two already-qualified teams.
Australia also secured their spot through Asia as they eased to a 76-47 victory over Iran in Group F, while Japan boosted their hopes of progressing by crushing Qatar 85-47, moving them level on points with Philippines after their 92-88 loss to Kazakhstan, who are a point adrift of the pair and two points behind second-placed Iran.
Led by 20 points from Leandro Barbosa, Brazil are now one win away from qualification after defeating the Dominican Republic, 100-82. Also in Group F of Americas qualifying, Chile were 81-63 victors over the Virgin Islands.