|Harden lifting the trophy for USA|
The FIBA Basketball World Cup has come to an end, after two weeks. In the final the mighty USA team took down a hungry Serbian team by a score of 129-92.
Despite the loss in the final, I am very proud of this Serbian team, who showed that they can play with some of the best teams from around the world. Entering this tournament, many said that it would be quite an accomplishment if Serbia even got past their group stage. Once Serbia did just that, they then defeated a Greek team that was undefeated (at that point), which raised a few eyebrows. In the quarters Serbia dismantled Brazil by 28 and beat France by five in the semis. In the final, you always knew that the Serbian team would have to play A++ basketball to beat the USA team, but unfortunately that did not happen. Hats off to a USA team that went undefeated, beating opponents by an average of 33 points.
Here are some talking points of this tournament.
This tournament was Gorgui Dieng coming out party. The young Senegalese player averaged 16 points to go along with 10.7 rebounds a game. We saw flashes of his rebounding ability as the 2013/2014 season was coming to an end, and he started to accumulate more playing time for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Hopefully the Timberwolves staff took notice of Dieng’s performance at the World Cup and we see more of him next year with the T-Wolves.
Andray Blatche put up some ridiculous numbers for the Philippines. In five games Blatche averaged 21.2 points a game (ranked 2nd in the tournament) to go along with 13.8 rebounds (ranked 1st in the tournament). Blatche just powered most of his opponents in the post, and on occasion, he was able to step back and hit some jumpers.
Toronto Raptor fans, I have not forgotten about you. Lithuanian big man, Jonas Valanciunas did very well at this tournament. In nine games played, Jonas averaged 14.4 points and 8.4 rebounds. Those averages were good enough to put Jonas in the top 20 in scoring and 6th overall in rebounding. Jonas also shot an incredible 69.6% from the field. Hopefully he can keep this up for the upon NBA season because the Raptors need a threat down in the post.
Petteri Koponen, Finnish point guard also did very well at the World’s. Petteri put up close to 16 points a game and he led the tournament in assists per game with 5.8. It is still uncertain if we will ever see Petteri play in the NBA (he was drafted 30th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2007), but he has proved on more than one occasion that he is a solid point guard.
Aron Baynes, San Antonio and Australian big man also had a good tourney averaging 17 points to go along with seven rebounds. I was really hoping to see a bigger role for youngster, Dante Exum, but he was pretty irrelevant in this edition of the World Cup.
-Senegal could be one of the best teams from Africa in the next couple of years. About half of their players play in some of the biggest European countries.
-Croatia should do much better at the next World Cup, when Hezonja and Saric will be much more experienced.
-Fingers crossed that in 2019, we will see Canada participating in this tournament!
The All-Star five for this tournament were:
Pau Gasol (Spain)
Kenneth Faried (USA)
Nicolas Batum (France)
Milos Teodosic (Serbia)
Kyrie Irving (USA)