Players to watch in the upcoming FIBA World Cup (Part 1)

The FIBA Basketball World Cup is less than a week away and every team is adding the finishing touches, before the opening of the competition in the 31st of August.

Let’s take a closer look to the players, who may have a big impact on their teams during the tournament.

China: Wang Zhelin

Aug. 7, 2016 – Source: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images South America

Wang was the best player of the country last season in the Chinese CBA. He averaged 24 points and 13 rebounds, being the MVP of the regular season in the league.

Wang, 25, is playing for Fuijan Sturgeon and was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies as the 57th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. 

Cote d’ivoire: Vafessa Fofana

Deon Thompson is the most well-known player of the squad, but Vafessa Fofana is the heart and the soul of the “Les Elephants”. Fofana will be the leader of the squad, being the best player of the preliminary phase. 

Fofana was averaging about 11 points, four rebounds and two assists in the preliminary phase, while playing for Nante in France’s second division. There, he was scoring about 10 points and grabbing five rebounds on a 12.6 efficiency rate. 

Venezuela: Gregory Vargas

The Venezuela NT is ready to enter the FIBA Basketball World Cup for the fifth time in its history. The team faced some economical adversities the previous weeks, but now “La Vinotinto de las alturas” are ready to compete.

Gregory Vargas is the key player of the squad. The point guard of Guaros was averaging about five points and five assists on 19 minutes per game last season for his club, while on the preliminary phase of the World Cup he was scoring 10.9 point per game on a 45% field goal percentage and 36% from the three point line.

Poland: Aaron Cel

Aaron Cel is the best scorer of the Polish squad averaging about 11.5 points and 5.5 rebounds on 52% field goal percentage and 39% from the three point line, while playing for Twarde Pierniki Torun the previous season.

Cel, 32, had a decent career in the French League and now will have to lead Poland NT on offense in the absence of its main star, Marcin Gortat.

Russia: Sergey Karasev

Russia will participate in the World Cup without Alexey Sved and Timofey Mozgov. In that case, Sergey Karasev needs to carry the offensive burden of his team. That’s a great opportunity for Karasev to emerge as the focal point of his team’s offense. 

The ex-Zenit player averaged about 12 points per game on 40% shooting from the three-point line last season. Also, after the great year he had in the VTB League and in the Eurocup, he will play for Khimki next season.

Argentina: Luis Scola

Luis Scola Argentina
Photo: Argentina Basketball Federation

Luis Scola is getting to his last big stage tournament of his career to “pass the torch” to the new stars of the “gaucho’s” national team (Campazzo,Vildoza). Last season, Scola, 39, averaged about 19 points per contest on 30 minutes per game in the Chinese League with the Shangai Dongfang. 

Nigeria: Josh Okogie

After a tough week, Nigeria got in China, being one of the most prolific defensive teams. Al Farouq Aminu and Ekpe Udoh can protect the rim any given time. On the other hand, Josh Okogie is one of the best perimeter defenders of the competition and will also have the chance to show his “two-way” capabillities.

In the previous season, the Minessota Timberolwes’ guard averaged 7.7 points.

South Korea: Ricardo Rattlife

Without a doubt, Ricardo Ratliffe is the one of the best players in the Korean squad. The forward from Hampton played for Mobis Phoebus last season, averaging a double-double with 24 points and 13 rebounds per game. 

Spain: Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio Spain
Photo: Spanish Basketball Federation

The Spain NT is one of the most talented teams in the tournament. Spain with Serbia and USA are the main favourites for winning the competition, but for the first time in many years they are competing without Pau Gasol and Sergio Rodriguez.

Still, Sergio Scariolo’s team consists of a great front-line (Hermangomez Brothers, Marc Gasol), but that’s not the case for their perimeter. Ricky Rubio and Sergio Llull have to amp up their game and become the focal point on their team’s perimeter offense. 

Iran: Hamed Haddadi

The Ex-Grizzles’ player will compete once again on the bigger stage of the FIBA World Cup. The first Iranian player that made it to the NBA needs to lead his team in Guangzhou.

Hadadi, 34, is a one-time MVP in the Chinese League and four-time MVP in the FIBA Asia Cup. Finally, the upcoming season will present his talents in the Lebanese League with Champville SC.

Puerto Rico: Ivan Gandia-Rosa

Puerto Rico participate constantly in the FIBA World Cup having eight consecutive appearances in the Tournament.

For the “Los Gallos”, JJ Barea won’t be in China and Eddie Cassiano needs to find the best possible solution in the point guard position.

The coach of the Puerto Rico NT is going to put a great load on the shoulders of Ivan Gandia. Gandia, 21, is playing for the University of North Florida and last season averaged about 10.5 points, 5.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game with the Ospreys.

Tunisia: Michael Roll

The most recognizable player on Tunisia’s 12-man squad is Salah Mejri, but in this competition “The Eagles of Carthage” will have also Michael Roll. Armani Milano’s guard will participate in his first World Cup Tournament with Tunisia NT.

Last season, Roll was averaging about nine points on 50% in field goals percentage and 40% from the three point line playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Angola: Carlos Morais

Angola will need all the help it can take from Carlos Morais. Morais, 32, is one of the most talented scorers in Angola NT. He was averaging about 12 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds in 9 games on the preliminary face of the FIBA World Cup.

Phillipines: Andray Blatche

Andray Blatche will be a standout in the Phillipines front line. Just two days ago, he flirted with a triple-double against the Adelaide 36ers putting an incredible show with 19 points, 18 rebounds and 9 assists and showing that he may lead “Gilas Pilipinas “ in a few wins.

Italy: Danilo Galinari

Italy had some adversities, while preparing for the World Cup, but now “Meo” Sacchetti  have all the players at his disposal. Danilo Galinari is, absolutely, the biggest star of the squad.

Last season , as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers’, he averaged about 20 points on 43% from the three point line.

Serbia: Nikola Jokić 

Serbia Lithunia Bogdanovic Jokic
Photo: Serbian Basketball Federation

One of the biggest stars of the NBA will participate with Serbia on this World Cup. The “Joker” is coming off his best season of his career and will try to lead a star-studded team to the gold medal, especially with the Team USA being constructed to more “normal” standards in this tourmanent.

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