Led by Nets stash Aleksandar Vezenkov, Bulgaria dominated Portugal early in the FIBA World Cup Pre-Qualifiers, winning 82-71 in Sines, Portugal.
Vezenkov, a 6’9” swingman who was taken with the 57th pick in the 2017 Draft, finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals. He also turned the ball over seven times. The 21-year-old, who plays for F.C. Barcelona, shot 4-of-9 overall and 2-of-5 from deep. He is expected to spend another two years in Europe.
Despite suffering a sprained ankle in a “friendly” game on Friday, Vezenkov played 34 minutes Wednesday. Dee Bost, who played college ball at Mississippi and was a D-League All-Star, was high scorer with 23 points.
Bulgaria led by 17, 62 – 79 in the fourth, then coasted the rest of the way. They play Belarus in Bulgaria on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. The game will be shown online.
Thirteen European teams, mostly from smaller countries, will play 30 games in various gyms across the continent. Eight of the 13 teams will progress to the World Cup Qualifiers in November. The winnowing out process ends in China with the FIBA World Cup next August. The U.S., as defending champion, doesn’t have to participate.