Photo Credit: fiba.basketball
The first half of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers window 3 has concluded with some great performances from current NBA players. Watching these players play in an expanded role for their national team gives the basketball fan a unique glimpse into what makes these players special. Three performances from the FIBA games over the last couple of days stood out and it appears more greatness is on the way.
As expected, Luka Doncic (Slovenia) stuffed the stat sheet and nearly recorded a triple-double in the win over Croatia with 21 points 8 rebounds 10 assists. What was most surprising about this game was how Croatia defended pick and roll. The big men for Croatia played in a deep drop coverage which allowed Luka to use screen after screen with little to no resistance from the big until Doncic got in the paint. Luka is easily one of the smartest and most methodical PNR players in the NBA and his prowess was on display as Croatia struggled to stop him from making plays the entire night. Playing against an NBA superstar, there isn’t much you can do to stop them but making it easy for them isn’t the answer either.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Canada) put on a show in the game against the Dominican Republic scoring 32 points and delivering a win. From the opening tip Shai made a statement by dunking the ball over Eloy Vargas for the game’s first bucket. SGA would go on to score in bunches over the course of the game hitting five 3FG and smoothly weaving his way around defenders to the basket. His handle and pace with the ball in his hands makes his game special as well as tough to guard. In games like this where he’s shooting the ball well from three-point range, he is seemingly unguardable. Along with Shai, Canada’s team has a number of other NBA players on the roster and more than any other team in this FIBA competition.
Buddy Hield (Bahamas) looked very impressive in his 24 point outing versus the Virgin Islands. Five seemed to be his special number this game as he hit five 3FG and added 5 assists and 5 steals. Some of the shots Buddy made were well-contested but what stood out was his ability to handle the ball to get shots off and create for others. This is a part of Buddy’s game we haven’t been able to see too much of recently however he’s playing with more responsibility in international play and his game is flourishing.
Looking ahead to the rest of the games in Window 3, Slovenia will play July 3 versus Sweden, Canada will face off against Virgin Islands on July 4, and Bahamas will play against the Dominican Republic on July 4.