September 5, 2019, 8:36 pm
Hello Hoop Ballers and welcome to our mini-update on the ongoing FIBA World Championship taking place in China. With the games starting early for most of our readers here in the United States, I know that not many people had a chance to watch many, or any, games so far, so I’m here to let you know about what happened in the last few days in a World Cup that has been pretty exciting with a couple favorites emerging.
Starting in Group A, China suffered devastating losses to Poland and Venezuela and got eliminated from what was the easiest pool of teams playing for two tickets that led to the next round.
Argentina and Russia (as expected) advanced from Group B, even though Nigeria and Josh Okogie tried to challenge both of them.
Spain looked vulnerable but survived a thriller against Iran to move to the next round along with a Puerto Rico side that is being led by former Knick Renaldo Balkman.
Serbia and Italy had no trouble getting out of Group D while Team USA needed Turkey to miss on four consecutive free throws in order to survive what looked like their first tournament loss since 2006.
Czech Republic meanwhile, took advantage of Turkey’s Herculean effort against team USA and beat them in the last game of the tournament by completing the upset and advancing to the Round of 16.
Brazil and Greece came out of Group F and will now face Team USA, while the Dominican Republic (my favorite underdog of the tournament) beat Germany and sent the Panzers home, while France had no trouble against either.
Finally, Australia and Lithuania came out of the “group of death” with Canada getting eliminated even after Cory Joseph joined them before the start of the tournament.
Here is how the Round of 16 looks after Thursday’s games:
First Round Standouts
Josh Okogie, Nigeria
14.0 points, 4.7 assists, 2.7 triples, 2.7 steals and 1.3 steals on 46.2 percent from the floor and 53.3 from behind the arc
Okogie probably looked like the best two-way player in the first round of the tournament, locking down opponents (as expected) but making great strides with his shooting and his passing, balancing the need for clutch shots with some great distribution to his teammates.
He lacks the size to compete with elite guards in the NBA but his toughness and athleticism is what made the difference in this tournament. Nigeria felt short but the young guard looked like the leader of this squad and Wolves fans should be excited about his development in the immediate future.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Team Serbia
24.0 points, 5.0 triples, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals on 61.5 percent from the floor and 65.2 from behind the arc
Serbia has been unstoppable in the World Cup and the difference hasn’t been Nikola Jokic but BB8, who has shot the ball great from all over the floor, forcing opponents to double team him occasionally. Bogdanovic seems to be healthier than ever with his lateral quickness and his looking to be on another level. He missed about a month at the beginning of the NBA season last year but hopefully he will be able to translate his performance at this tournament to a great start with the Kings.
Tomas Satoransky, Czech Republic
14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.0 triple and 1.0 steal on 38.2 percent from the floor and 37.5 from behind the arc
Czech Republic came into the tournament as an underdog while missing former Wizards first round pick Jan Vesely but Satoransky has shown tremendous leadership, guiding his team to an upset over Turkey that led them to the top-16.
Sato has struggled from the floor but this is expected as teams are zeroing in on him while his 6.3 assists make the difference and I believe he is poised to persuade everyone and especially the Bulls, who signed him, that he is the clear starter.
Patty Mills and the entire Australian Team
Mills is averaging 20.0 points while Joe Ingles is leading the tournament in assists with 8.3 in an offense that looks beautiful and is clearly unstoppable, even when opponents play zone defense. The Boomers seem determined to make a deep run, fueled by their exhibition victory against Team USA that has given them tremendous confidence.
Evan Fournier, France
16.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 triples on 44.7 percent from the floor and 50.0 from behind the arc
Fournier seems like another player that is taking his game to next level by becoming the leader of this French team. The Magic guard is not forcing his shots and his 3.7 assists illustrate his ability to read defenses and make the extra pass but he has also been clutch in the tournament as a key figure in late-game situations.
Frank Ntilikina, France
9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.0 triples on 47.1 percent from the floor and 54.5 from behind the arc
Ntilikina’s numbers haven’t really been anything spectacular, other than the hot shooting, but he has looked confident while impacting plays on both ends of the floor. His performance is really not a surprise as Ntilikina grew up learning how to play within a system, which is the opposite of what the Knicks do under David Fizdale.
New York is not very high on him but I could absolutely see another NBA team taking a shot at him after a successful World Cup.
Must-watch Games in Round 2 (Sept. 6-9)
Spain – Italy (9/6)
Brazil – Czech Republic (9/7)
France – Lithuania (9/7)
USA – Greece (9/7)
Puerto Rico – Italy (9/8)
Czech Republic – Greece (9/9)
France – Australia (9/9)
USA – Brazil (9/9)
Stats are courtesy of FIBA.basketball and are accurate as of September 6th.