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David-Hein-Column
11/09/2014
David Hein's Eye on the Future
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On-the-job training for France future stars Gobert, Lauvergne

REGENSBURG (David Hein's Eye on the Future) - France pulled off one of the biggest upsets in international basketball history with their win over Spain at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

And the fact that Joffrey Lauvergne and Rudy Gobert both played big roles in the victory bodes well for the already strong future of Les Bleus.

France got five points and 13 rebounds from Gobert against the Spanish while Lauvergne collected four points and 10 rebounds.

Ready for the best part if you're a France fan? Both big men are just 22 years old.

Gobert is a massively long center with a 2.37m wingspan who has been growing with confidence at Spain 2014. And that crescendoed against Spain as he did a solid job guarding the Spanish bigs and leading the French to a 50-28 rebounding advantage in the game.

Gobert's numbers improved to 4.1 points and 5.1 rebounds for the tournament, which is his first with the senior national team after last playing for France at the U20 European Championship in 2012.

Lauvergne meanwhile has seen his role change over the course of France's run to the Semi-Finals. After scoring three points in the first game against Brazil, Lauvergne had extra motivation in the following game against Serbia since he played last season for Serbian club Partizan Belgrade. And he scored a tournament-high 19 points to go with six rebounds.

Lauvergne also scored 12 points against both Egypt and Iran but was held to eight points and just two rebounds against Croatia in the Round of 16 before his big game against Spain.

"He was a scorer in the first half of the championship, but (against Spain) he did his job. He got rebounds. He was the best rebounder in the Euroleague, but I want him to be the best rebounder at the World Cup," said France coach Vincent Collet.

"I believe they are stepping up. You could see how hard Joffrey and Rudy worked (against Spain) and how they are following my lead and that of Boris (Diaw)," Nicolas Batum said of the two 22-year-olds.

The time with the national team has been good for both youngsters who are at different points in their career.

Gobert spent his first season in the NBA going between Utah and the D-League. In total, he played 45 games for the Jazz, averaging 2.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 9.6 minutes per game.

"Rudy is a young player. In the NBA he doesn't play very many minutes. He was not ready when he left France two years ago. Since the beginning of the preparations we have to talk to him every day. But he has a real desire to do good," said Collet.

It's been great for Gobert working daily with the likes of Diaw, Batum, Mikael Gelebale and Florent Pietrus and playing against the likes of Marc and Pau Gasol, Nenad Krstic, Tiago Splitter, Nene Hilario, Anderson Varejao, Hamed Haddadi and Ante Tomic.

While Gobert is experiencing his first taste of the senior France team, Lauvergne is with Les Bleus for the second go-around. He took what he learned at EuroBasket 2013 and used that to improve his game with Euroleague team Partizan Belgrade during last season.

And now Lauvergne is learning a whole new bag of tricks which he will take to Russia to play for Khimki - just like Gobert will bring back to the Jazz.

With Gobert and Lauvergne both taking a big step already, France are nearing the day when it would be an upset for Spain to knock off Les Bleus.

David Hein

FIBA

FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

David Hein

David Hein

Walk into the media tribune of any major basketball event and there's a good chance you will come across David Hein. Having covered dozens of FIBA events, including numerous women's and youth events, there are few players Dave doesn't know about, and few players who don't know him. His sporting curiosity means he is always looking to unearth something new and a little bit special. David Hein's Eye on the Future is a weekly column digging out the freshest basketball talent worldwide and assessing what the basketball landscape will look like a couple of years down the line.