The 2019 FIBA World Cup is hours away and people all over the world are ready to support and cheer on their country.
Let’s take a look at a player from each group, who might get overlooked by other players and teams in their respective groups.
Group A: Mateusz Ponitka, Poland
Ponitka and fellow backcourt scorer AJ Slaughter will provide the majority of the scoring for Poland in their quest to move to the knockout round from what can be argued is the “weakest” group in the World Cup.
Group B: Ricardo Ratliffe (Ra Guna), South Korea
Ratliffe became a naturalized South Korean citizen in 2018 and has helped the team ever since.
In the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, Ratliffe averaged 26.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and shot 60 percent from the field.
Ratliffe fills a void in the frontcourt that Korea has long-needed to go along with their outside shooting. He will more than likely stuff the stat sheet in group play.
Group C: Michael Roll, Tunisia
Roll, a sharpshooter, became a naturalized Tunisian citizen in 2015 and will be playing in his first World Cup.
After a last place finish among the 24 teams at the 2010 FIBA World Cup, Roll and Tunisia have intentions to make some noise.
“Spain are the obvious favorites in the group as they’re a world power,” Roll told FIBA.basketball in May. “Iran and Puerto Rico are also talented teams so we’ll have to play well to be able to beat them.”
Group D: June Mar Fajardo, Philippines
Fajardo, nicknamed “The Kraken,” forms a solid frontcourt duo with former NBA player Andray Blatche.
Fajardo has won a record five MVP awards in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and is looking to breakout on the national stage against tough opponents Serbia and Italy in group play.
Group E: Rui Hachimura, Japan
Hachimura is Japan’s most important player, but playing in the same group as Team USA lands him on this list.
Hachimura leads Japan into their fifth ever World Cup and this is probably their most talented team in recent times.
He has already proven that he has the potential to be a star someday in the NBA and he now has the chance to have a breakout performance on the international stage.
Hachimura, fellow NBA player Yuta Watanabe and naturalized player Nick Fazekas form to make a high-scoring frontcourt and they will hope to steal a win in group play.
Group F: Bojan Dubljevic, Montenegro
Dubljevic makes up a formidable frontcourt with NBA star Nikola Vucevic and Marko Todorovic.
Dubljevic averaged 18.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in the FIBA World Cup European Qualifiers and helped Montengro qualify for their first ever World Cup.
Group G: Dar Tucker, Jordan
Another talented naturalized player who can score with ease, Tucker helped Jordan qualify for their second ever World Cup by averaging 21.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Jordan has a tough group with France and Germany, but with Tucker’s scoring ability paired with talented center Ahmet Duverioglu (Ahmad Al-Dwairi), they will hope to pull off an upset.
Group H: Khem Birch, Canada
Birch, Orlando Magic backup center, has inherited a leadership role on a severely depleted roster.
He will have the chance to play a key role for Canada as they try to make the most of their situation and lack of NBA talent.