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Scoring, Shooting, Blocking and more: the Player Awards of the Qualifiers
MIES (Switzerland) - The level of competition at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers was truly astounding, mainly due to how so many players stepped up for their respective teams.
This is where we'll recognize their achievements over the past fourteen months of intense international basketball.
Most Explosive Scorer
Japan's Nick Fazekas didn't have the highest point total in Asia or even for his team, but that's mainly because he played just 6 games. In those 6 contests, though, he was unstoppable, even scoring 41 points against Kazakhstan. Senegal's Gorgui Dieng and Germany's Robin Benzing were equally impressive for their respective teams, but their potency was just nowhere near Fazekas's.
Best Three-Point Shooter
|1||Karol Gruszecki||Europe||Poland||62.5 percent||12|
|2||Jayson Castro||Asia||Philippines||58.6 percent||8|
|3||Melvin Ejim||Americas||Canada||57.9 percent||8|
|4||Nizar Knioua||Africa||Tunisia||52.9 percent||8|
Castro, Ejim and Knioua all have really high three-point shooting percentages, but Gruszecki is just on another plane, especially when one takes into account how he played all 12 European Qualifiers fixtures for Poland. The 29-year-old super sniper should be a marked man at the World Cup lest he be allowed to torch the nets from long range.
It's easy to give this one to Fazekas, who was just absolutely amazing for Japan in the Asian Qualifiers, but don't forget that Brazil's Varejao played nearly double the amount of games that Fazekas did. Senegal's Dieng and France's Lessort also had commendable numbers, but this really is a toss-up between Fazekas and Varejao. If we look at their per-30-minute rebounding numbers, however, Fazekas still edges out Varejao, 12.1 to 10.5.
It's tough to counter the playmaking prowess of Lithuania's Kalnietis when he hands out more than 6 assists per contest, and especially considering the very high level of play we saw in the European Qualifiers. Still, Senegal's D'Almeida's body of work over 10 matches in the African Qualifiers begs notice, too. USA's Trice and Lebanon's Arakji, of course, have also done really well, but at the end of the day, Kalnietis should take the title as Best Playmaker.
Best in Steals
|1||Souleyman Diabate||Africa||Cote d'Ivoire||2.3||11|
|4||Rigoberto Mendoza||Americas||Dominican Republic||1.8||12|
One has got to love the game of Cote d'Ivoire's Diabate, who is just a vulture on defense, preying on unsuspecting or careless ball-handlers. This is a guy who had 3 or more steals in 4 games for Cote d'Ivoire, including an eye-popping 6 thefts against Nigeria. France's Lacombe isn't a slouch, too, after recording a total of 23 steals in 10 appearances for Les Bleus.
Best in Rim Protection
|4||Pape Abdou Badji||Africa||Senegal||1.3||6|
Andray Blatche is no longer as agile as he once was, but he has redefined his game to continue being a very heavy contributor for the Philippines. Much of that has to do with his much improved shot-blocking, which helped make the Filipinos really strong around the basket. The same can also be said of Canada's Anthony and France's Fall, both of whom diligently patrolled the paint for their respective squads.
Most Efficient Player
When it comes to overall productivity and impact on the national team, Korea's Ra GunA really was on a whole different level in the Asian Qualifiers. He gobbled up double-doubles left and right and gave the Koreans a new dimension to their game that made them even harder to beat than before. Dieng, likewise, was a force of nature for Senegal, though he appeared in just half their games, while Greece's Bourousis and Brazil's Varejao had their ups and downs despite high efficiency ratings.