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FRA - Leader Gombauld still has work to do

Stephane Gombauld (FRA)
Stephane Gombauld (FRA) - 2013 U16 European Championship

PARIS (FIBA U17 World Championship) - France head to the FIBA U17 World Championship looking to make a splash and know that Stephane Gombauld will be an important factor in any chances they may have.

The native of Saint-Claude led France in scoring and rebounding at the 2013 U16 European Championship as Les Bleus knocked off the uber-talented Croatia in the fifth-place game to book the final ticket from Europe for the U17 Worlds which get underway in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Friday (8-16 August).

"Stephane is obviously a bright young player who is improving every year," said France coach Frederic Crapez.

"He has been playing for the national team for a few years now and his experience and talent will be very important for the team."

Gombauld was playing for the second time at U16 level in 2013 and now the 2.03m forward will be a leader for the French in Dubai.

"Being such a young player he has much to improve. But he brings a lot to the court. He is aggressive, he rebounds, he scores. But he knows he still has a long way to go and that he has many areas of his game that he needs to work on," added the coach.

Gombauld plays during the year with the INSEP academy and starred at the Nike International Junior Tournament (NIJT) qualifying event last spring in Belgrade, Serbia where he was named to the All-Tournament Team for leading the team to the final, which they lost to Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade - the eventual NIJT champions.

Gombauld averaged 15 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals during the qualifiers.

"Obviously tournaments like the NIJT are huge opportunities for all these young players to express their talent and to improve and compete against some of the brightest talents around," Crapez said of Gombauld, who was actually a year younger than the rest of the competition.

One player that knows Gombauld from INSEP and the NIJT and can vouch for the qualities and potential he brings is Cyrille Eliezer-Vanerot, who played for France at the recently-concluded U18 European Championship.

"He's a great player and he has a lot of work to do. But he can be one of the best players we have," said Eliezer-Vanerot.