FIBA Basketball World Cup

Nebraska v Ohio State

No more college hoops in 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup as New Zealand falls

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College basketball no longer has any representation in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup as New Zealand fell today to Lithuania in the Round of 16.

Nebraska guard Tai Webster and Hawaii forward Isaac Fotu were both playing for the Tall Blacks in the event and Fotu, in particular, had a very positive event.

In six games, the 6-foot-4 Webster averaged 5.3 points, 3 rebounds and 1.5 assists a game while shooting 37 percent (13-for-35) from the field and nine percent (1-for-11) from three-point range.

While those numbers aren’t great for Webster, being a college sophomore playing against a lot of professionals is a valuable training camp.

The 6-foot-8 Fotu had a strong showing at the World Cup, as he finished in double figures in the scoring column the last three games of the event and averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Fotu also shot 60 percent (23-for-38) from the field and 41 percent (5-for-12) from three-point range.

New Zealand may be eliminated but the six games — and practices — were both valuable experiences for Webster and Fotu entering the 2014-15 college basketball season.

FIBA Basketball World Cup comes to an end for Orlando Antigua, Maurice Ndour

Orlando Antigua
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Among those currently connected to college basketball, there are five players and one head coach participating in the FIBA Basketball World Cup. With two (Angola’s Yanick Moreira and Ukraine’s Sviatoslov Mykhailiuk) playing on teams that failed to advance out of group play, Saturday’s action began with three players and one coach remaining in the field.

Both categories dropped by one Saturday evening, with the Dominican Republic (led by USF head coach Orlando Antigua) losing 71-61 to Slovenia and Senegal (which includes Ohio senior forward Maurice Ndour) losing to hosts Spain 89-56.

Antigua, who took over for former boss John Calipari as head coach of the Dominican Republic national team, became the first coach to lead the team into the knockout rounds of the event since 1978 by leading the team to a 2-3 mark in Group C. Unfortunately for Antigua his team managed to score just 13 points in the second quarter Saturday, and Slovenia’s Dragic brothers (Zoran and Goran) combined to score 30 points with Zoran responsible for 18.

The Dominicans were led offensively by former Quinnipiac guard James Feldeine, who scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a losing effort. Now that his tournament is over Antigua will rejoin his program at USF, a group that looking to rebound from two disappointing seasons under former head coach Stan Heath.

As for Ndour, he and his teammates ran into one of the tournament favorites by virtue of their finishing fourth in Group B, and as expected things didn’t go well against Spain. Senegal trailed by just six points (23-17) at the end of one quarter, but an 11-point second quarter resulted in Spain eventually pulling away for a comfortable victory.

Ndour finished the game with four points and two rebounds, and for the tournament he averaged 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per contest at one of Senegal’s first players off the bench. Ndour’s role will be different during his senior season at Ohio, as he’ll look to build on a productive 2013-14 season under new head coach Saul Phillips.

The two remaining current college players in the event are New Zealand’s Tai Webster (Nebraska) and Isaac Fotu (Hawaii), and they’ll be in action Sunday morning as they take on Lithuania.

Angola falls despite Yanick Moreira’s best offensive performance of FIBA Basketball World Cup

SMU v Memphis
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While some have jumped off the SMU bandwagon thanks to Emmanuel Mudiay’s decision to turn pro and play in China this year, the fact of the matter is that Larry Brown has a team capable of winning its first conference title since 1972. With guard Nic Moore and forward Markus Kennedy leading the way, the Mustangs will likely still be the favorite to win the American Athletic Conference this upcoming season.

With that being the case senior center Yanick Moreira’s time with the Angolan national team at the FIBA Basketball World Cup could prove incredibly valuable should he use it as a springboard into 2014-15. And given the way Moreira’s played in Spain, Kennedy will have a more than capable front court sidekick.

Angola fell short of victory Wednesday, losing 93-87 to undefeated Slovenia, but Moreira put forth his best offensive performance of the event with 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field. Moreira also grabbed five rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end of the floor. For the tournament Moreira, who averaged six points and just under four rebounds per game in 23 appearances last season, is averaging 12.8 points and 6.5 rebounds with one contest left to play.

That final game will provide Moreira and his teammates with quite the test, as Australia has multiple big men capable of making life difficult. If Angola can win that game and get some help in the form of Korea beating Mexico, they’d advance out of the group stages and into the Round of 16. But regardless of what happens Thursday, this has been a successful tournament for a player who missed a month of action in 2013-14 due to a knee injury.

And if Moreira can carry this production over into the 2014-15 season, SMU will reap the rewards as they look to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament.

Ohio senior forward contributes to Senegal’s first FIBA worlds victory since 1998

Maurice Ndour
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Prior to Sunday, Senegal’s senior national team hadn’t won a game at the FIBA Basketball World Cup (formerly known as the FIBA World Championships) since 1998. That changed Sunday afternoon, as the Senegalese held off Puerto Rico by the final score of 82-75. Senegal’s squad was led by Mouhammad Faye (20 points) and former Louisville (and current Minnesota Timberwolf) center Gorgui Dieng, who accounted for 18 points and 13 rebounds in the victory.

Senegal is also one of four teams at the FIBA Basketball World Cup that has a current college player on its roster, and on Sunday Ohio senior forward Maurice Ndour provided some help off the bench. Ndour accounted for eight points, two rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes of action off the bench. In two games at the Basketball World Cup Ndour, who was a second team All-MAC selection last season, is averaging 6.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.

Next up for Ndour and his teammates is a game against Croatia Monday morning.

Ndour was the only collegian at the event to experience victory on Sunday, and he was also the most productive from an offensive standpoint. New Zealand’s college tandem of Isaac Fotu (Hawaii) and Tai Webster (Nebraska) combined to score four points and grab six rebounds in their team’s 75-62 loss to the Dominican Republic, with Webster accounting for four of the six rebounds. Next up for New Zealand: the United States on Tuesday.

SMU senior center Yanick Moreira, who posted a double-double in Angola’s win over South Korea on Saturday, wasn’t as effective in his team’s 75-62 loss to Lithuania. Moreira finished the game with two points and two rebounds in just five minutes of action. Lastly there was Kansas freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who played ten minutes in Ukraine’s 81-76 loss to Finland. Mykhailiuk scored four minutes during his time on the floor, which came after not playing at all in Ukraine’s opener Saturday.

SMU center’s double-double leads Angola to win at FIBA Basketball World Cup

SMU v Memphis
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Saturday marked the start of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, with the United States and hosts Spain both coasting to comfortable victories. The event is loaded with professionals, which is to be expected, with there being just five players currently on college basketball rosters participating. Among those five is Angola center Yanick Moreira, who’s a member of Larry Brown’s program at SMU.

Moreira played in just 23 games last season due to injury, so this time on the court ahead of the 2014-15 season could prove valuable for him as he looks to solidify his spot alongside Markus Kennedy in the SMU front court rotation. Moreira got off to a good start Saturday, accounting for 16 points and ten rebounds in Angola’s 80-69 victory over South Korea. Moreira made seven of his eleven field goal attempts, and six of his ten rebounds were of the offensive variety.

After being outscored 30-16 in the third quarter, which wiped out most of Angola’s 18-point halftime advantage, the Angolans outscored Korea 28-21 in the final quarter. As part of Group D, which includes Lithuania, Slovenia, Australia and Mexico, Angola is looking to earn one of four available slots in the knockout rounds. Saturday’s win gets them off to a good start, and Moreira and company will look to move to 2-0 when they face group favorite Lithuania Sunday afternoon.

Moreira was the lone collegian to reach double digits Saturday, but he wasn’t also the only player to experience victory. Ukraine’s Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who will join the Kansas program immediately after his tournament is completed, did not see any action in Ukraine’s 72-62 win over the Dominican Republic. The Ukraine is in Group C, which in addition to the favored USA has three current college basketball players.

The other two current collegians in Group C are New Zealand’s Isaac Fotu (Hawaii) and Tai Webster (Nebraska). Both saw time in New Zealand’s 76-73 loss to Turkey, with Fotu accounting for seven points and four rebounds in the defeat and Webster finishing with six points and five rebounds. Corey Webster led New Zealand with 22 points and Rob Loe, who played his college basketball at Saint Louis, added 11 to go along with six rebounds.

Maurice Ndour, who will be a senior at Ohio this season, accounted for four points, three rebounds and two steals in Senegal’s 87-64 loss to Greece in Group B play. Gorgui Dieng, who played at Louisville, paced Senegal with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

Five college basketball players to participate in FIBA Basketball World Cup

Nebraska v Ohio State
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With the first FIBA Basketball World Cup (formerly the FIBA World Championships) set to tip off next weekend in Spain, most of the attention has been focused on the many professional players who will be participating. And rightfully so, when considering the fact that the rosters of favorites such as the United States, Spain and Argentina are loaded with NBA players.

But the event will also feature five college basketball players who will be on campuses in 2014-15, with New Zealand’s roster having two of those five players. One of those two, Nebraska sophomore guard Tai Webster, even played a key role in New Zealand’s surprising 102-96 win over Serbia on Sunday, as he scored 21 points. Professional veterans Kirk Penney (you may remember him being on Wisconsin’s 2000 Final Four team) and Mike Vukona led the way offensively, scoring 29 and 22 points respectively.

The experience of playing in the FIBA Basketball World Cup is an incredibly valuable one for the college players, as they get to sharpen their skills and compete against the best players in the world ahead of the upcoming season. And for Webster, who averaged 3.9 points and 2.0 assists per game as a freshman at Nebraska, a good tournament would provide the springboard needed to put together a solid sophomore campaign.

Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields return to lead the way for Tim Miles’ Cornhuskers, but they’re going to need more from players such as Webster if they’re to make a second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.

Joining Webster on the New Zealand national team is forward Isaac Fotu, who in his two seasons at Hawaii has emerged as one of the best front court players in the Big West. Fotu averaged 14.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last year, earning first team All-Big West honors as a result. And with leading scorer and rebounder Christian Standhardinger out of eligibility, Fotu stands to receive even more attention from opponents in 2014-15.

The other three current collegians participating in the FIBA Basketball World Cup are SMU senior forward Yanick Moreira (Angola; 6.0, 3.9), Kansas freshman guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Ukraine) and Ohio senior forward Maurice Ndour (Senegal; 14.1, 6.9). As a junior at Ohio, Ndour earned second team All-MAC honors.