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Tomas Satoransky scores game winner to lift Czech Republic past Russia in FIBA qualifying

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Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors - Game Five Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

We’re still a couple of weeks away from the start of preseason, but Tomas Satoransky is already getting some game reps.

On Thursday, he posted 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists, including the game-winner with 5.8 seconds left to lift the Czech Republic to an 80-78 win over Russia.

The victory moves them one step closer to securing a spot in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. They’re currently tied with France at the top of their group in European qualifying with a 6-1 record, and they now have a two-game lead over Finland for third and a three-game lead over Russia and Bulgaria. The top three teams from the group will qualify for next year’s World Cup.

This game gives the Czech Republic breathing room they’ll need for the final five games of qualifying. They face Bosnia and Herzegovina—the team with the worst record in their group—on Sunday, but after that, Satoransky won’t be able to help them the rest of the way. The final four games of qualifying don’t take place until this winter, so taking care of business against Russia was critical. As long as they can win on Sunday, that will ensure they finish the group with a winning record, even if they go winless in their final four games without Satoransky.

Of course, the Czech Republic has other talented players they can turn to when Satoransky reports back to Washington. Their fourth-leading scorer from Monday’s game, Jan Vesely, has NBA experience as well. I can’t recall which team he played for off the top of my head, but he probably had a blast.