Jazz’s Rudy Gobert, Hornets’ Nicolas Batum headline France’s preliminary FIBA WC roster
As the FIBA World Cup draws nearer, participating teams are now in the finals stages of their preparation for the prestigious international tournament. France have recently announced their preliminary players pool, with the shortlist headed by Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert and Charlotte Hornets veteran wing Nicolas Batum.
The complete list was provided in a write-up straight out of FIBA’s official website, and aside from the two aforementioned names, other NBA players that were included on the shortlist were Chicago Bulls swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, New York Knicks sophomore point guard Frank Ntilikina, and former San Antonio Spurs combo guard Nando De Colo.
The French are set to field a formidable side in the upcoming tournament, with reigning Defensive Player of the Year winner Rudy Gobert manning the middle. The 26-year-old had another spectacular year with the Jazz this season, putting up a career-high 15.9 points (on 66.9 percent shooting), 12.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 steals, and 2.3 blocks in 81 regular season appearances for Utah. The 7-foot-1 center remains to be a frontrunner to win back-to-back DPOY honors.
As for Batum, who had a memorable overall performance for his nation five years ago in the same tournament (he was named as part of the competition’s All-Star Five), the 30-year-old saw a bit of a decline in his numbers in his 11th season in the league. Father time may slowly be creeping in on Batum, as he averaged 9.3 points (his lowest output since his rookie year), 1.5 three-pointers, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.6 blocks in 31.4 minutes per contest.
Nevertheless, France are still considered to be one of the stronger sides in this year’s edition of the World Cup, and the nation will be hoping to better their third-place finish from 2014.