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Strebkov, Zabelin join Russia for final European Qualifiers window
MOSCOW (Russia) - Ivan Strebkov has raised enough eyebrows thanks to solid performances in the Basketball Champions League with Nizhny Novgorod to earn a spot in Russia's national team for the sixth and final window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers.
Strebkov's steady and often dynamic play in the backcourt helped his club book a spot in the BCL Play-Offs and now he's in the 19-man squad for vital games coming up at Bulgaria on February 21 and in Perm against Finland on February 24.
|Russia's 19-player squad for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers|
|Semen Antonov||Evgeny Baburin||Nikita Balashov||Joel Bolomboy|
|Vitaly Fridzon||Petr Gubanov||Stanislav Ilnitsky||Vladimir Ivlev|
|Aleksander Khomenko||Dmitry Khvostov||Artem Klimenko||Dmitry Kulagin|
|Nikita Kurbanov||Nikita Mikhaylovsky||Aleksander Platunov||Ivan Strebkov|
|Ivan Ukhov||Andrey Vorontsevich||Artem Zabelin|
The 27-year-old shooting guard played for Russia's youth teams but has yet to make his debut with the senior side. In the BCL he has averaged 13.2 points and a team-high 5.2 assists.
Also called into the squad is Artem Zabelin of Avtodor Saratov. The 31-year-old center, who featured in Russia's youth teams, is also set to make his senior team bow.
Dmitry Khvostov and Dmitry Kulagin, who have appeared in all 10 of Russia's European Qualifiers and have prominent roles in the team, are among the 19. Khvostov has turned into one of the best shooters in Europe and leads Russia with a 55.4 percent (31 of 56) success rate from 3-point range, although he's endured some struggles at the free-throw line (13 of 24, 54.2 percent).
Kulagin has averaged 11.7 points per game. He came through in the clutch in Russia's 77-75 win at Finland on November 30.
Coach Sergey Bazarevich has confirmed that CSKA players Semen Antonov, Joel Bolomboy, Nikita Kurbanov and Ivan Ukhov will join the national team after the first game against Bulgaria and be able to play against Finland. Nikita Mikhaylovsky (Avtodor Saratov), Aleksander Platunov (Parma Perm) and Aleksander Khomenko (CSKA-2) are also three late additions to the Russia camp.
France and the Czech Republic have already clinched two spots from Group K for the first-ever 32-team FIBA Basketball World Cup in China (August 31-September 15). Russia (6-4) are battling Finland (5-5) for the group's third and last available qualifying place.
Should France win at Finland and Russia defeat Bulgaria, the Russians would qualify. If both teams win on February 21, the most clear-cut scenario for Russia to make it to China would be to win their game against the Finns.
Click here to find out what each of the 12 teams vying for the last 5 berths in Europe have to do to qualify.