FIBA World Basketball Qualifying Rounds: An Intro

Are you dying for Sixers basketball like me? Then you’re in the right place. While we patiently wait for training camp to start (10 days!!!), Dario Saric and Furkan Korkmaz are getting ready for the FIBA World Basketball Cup Qualifiers. For those who are unsure about FIBA, then here is a brief description to catch you up.

The FIBA Basketball World Cup, which lasts from August 31-September 15th, 2019, takes place in China next year and consists of 32 participating teams.  Throughout each round, there are multiple “windows” of games that occur throughout separate months. In each “window,” each team plays two games on a home and away basis.

The first round started back in November 2017 and throughout February and June of 2018.  The first round featured 32 teams that were broken into eight groups of four teams.  The top three teams from each group moved on to the second round. All results from all games in the first round (even the ones from games against teams that did not advance) are carried over to the second round.

The first window of the second round runs from September 13-18. The second window of the second round will take place in November, with the last window being in February 2019.  The three highest-placed teams from each group (12 teams) will qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019.  There are 6 total windows throughout the 2 rounds of the qualifiers, which will funnel the teams that qualify the FIBA World Cup.

The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup will feature 92 games in a span of 16 days.  Games will span over five provinces and eight cities, including Beijing, Foshan, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Nanjing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.  There will be 8 groups of 4 teams and the Final of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 will take place in Beijing on Sunday, September 15th, 2019.

Dario “The Homie” Saric

Dario Saric is, without a doubt, the lifeblood of the Sixers core. While skeptics of The Process continue to decide if “The Homie” will come over or not, Dario emerged as a leader of the Sixers and became one of the biggest, most lovable personalities in Philadelphia.  When Dario made his first start against the Atlanta Hawks on November 1, 2017, he simply never looked back. The Homie became one of the premiere stretch 4s in the NBA, averaging 14.6 points per game and making 39.3 percent of his three-point shots on 5.1 attempts per game.

Dario Saric plays for Team Croatia, who went 3-3 in the first round of the qualifiers with victories over the Netherlands, Italy and Romania. Of the games in the first round, Dario played in two games against Italy and Romania, which were both wins.  In the game against Italy, Dario tallied nine points but struggled with his shooting, hitting just 2-for-15 shots from the field. In his second game against Romania, Dario finished much better, netting 22 points on 6-for-10 from the field and 3-for-5 from three-point range.

In two games, The Homie is averaging 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists and 28 minutes per game.  Overall, Dario has hit 45.5 percent of his shots (5-for-11) from three-point range. Dario needs to cut down on his turnovers, which is expected given his lack of chemistry with the team. Lastly, Dario has made 71.4 percent of his shots from the free throw line (10-for-14).

Here is a collection of the best highlights from Dario in the first round of the FIBA World Basketball Qualifiers.

Had only made one field goal prior to this and puts in a prayer off the backboard in a huge shot against Italy.

Dario grabs the offensive board and throws a behind the back pass to his teammate Ivica Zubac (Los Angeles Laker) for the two handed slam.

Come on Romania, you know better than leaving The Homie wide open for a triple.

Dario uses his patented back down and baby hook in the post and gets the and-1.

Dario and Croatia will start the second round on Friday when they face Lithuania. Here is the schedule for The One Who Never Came Over (Harry Potter nod) moving forward:

*Friday 9/14 away vs. Lithuania

*Monday 9/17 home vs. Poland

*Thursday 11/29 away vs. Hungary

*Sunday 12/2 home vs Lithuania

*Friday 2/22 away vs Poland

*Monday 2/25 home vs Hungary

Furkan “Pop The” Korkmaz

To me, Furkan Korkmaz is the most forgotten Sixer on the team. Many fans and media forget that he was the 26th pick in the 2016 NBA draft. To their credit, last season was mostly forgettable for Furkan after a Lisfranc sidelined him in December during a G-League contest. When Marco Belinelli signed a two-year, $12 million dollar contract with the Spurs, this certainly nudged the door open for a rotation spot that needs a three-point specialist. It has been a whirlwind offseason for Korkmaz, who has put up some huge scoring games and even hit a game winner as part of the Sixers Summer League.

In Europe, Korkmaz continues to have a huge impact for Turkey in a preparation tournament for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, which starts on September 14. In two games and 23.7 minutes per game, Furkan Korkmaz is averaging 22 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists.  Most importantly, Furkan is shooting a staggering 77.8 percent from three-point range on 4.5 attempts per game (7 of 9).

In the first round, Furkan and Turkey went 4-1 and advanced to the second round.  In those games, Turkey defeated Latvia, Ukraine and Sweden. Furkan played in two games for Turkey, and in those games won by an average of 15.5 points.  In his first game against Ukraine, Furkan finished with 21 points on 4-for-5 shooting from downtown in 25 minutes.  In his second game against Sweden, Korkmaz had 23 points on 3-for-4 shooting from three-point range in 22 minutes.

Here is a collection of the best highlights from Furkan in the first round of the FIBA World Basketball Qualifiers.

Furkan gets the steal, pushes the break and gets the layup. If Furkan wants extended minutes as part of Brett Brown’s rotation, this is how he does it.

Korkmaz doesn’t convert but he tips the pass, gets the steal, starts the fast break and gets to the line. Everything Brett Brown is looking for.

Furkan beats his man off a quick first step and finishes with the one handled slam.

More recently, Furkan Korkmaz and Turkey took on Germany in a warmup match to get ready for the second round.  Furkan Korkmaz put up 23 points, two assists and three rebounds on 7-for-11 field goals in just 22 minutes.  Even better, Furkan shot 6-for-8 from 3 point range. Quick note: Former Sixer Ersan Ilyasova added 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists while Germany’s Dennis Schroder added 32 points and 14 assists. Here is a collection of Furkan’s best plays from the warm up contest with Germany.

Furkan sells the pump fake and puts Germany power forward Danilo Barthel on skates.

Furkan sells another pump fake and hits a corner three. Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot of this with the Sixers this year.

Furkan grabs the inbound pass, creates space and shows off his wet jumper from three-point range.

Furkan Korkmaz has been simply automatic from three-point range in the qualifiers.

In 10 games, the sharpshooter has nailed 30 three-pointers out of 63 attempts, coming out to 47.6 percent in seven attempts per game this offseason.  In comparison, Marco Belinelli shot 38.5 percent from three at 5.3 attempts per game in 31 games for the Sixers last season.  If Furkan can cut down his inconsistencies from beyond the arc, he should easily find some minutes as part of the Sixers core rotation this year.

Furkan and Turkey will start the second round on Friday when they face Montenegro. Here is the schedule for our beloved Furkan and Turkey moving forward:

*Friday 9/14 away vs. Montenegro

*Monday 9/17 home vs. Slovenia

*Thursday 11/29 away vs. Spain

*Sunday 12/2 home vs Montenegro

*Friday 2/22 away vs Slovenia

*Monday 2/25 home vs Spain

I will be providing updates as the second round of the FIBA World Basketball Qualifiers continues, so stay tuned. As always, trust the process everyone.