20 November, 2017
26 February, 2019
9 Jonathan Tabu (BEL)
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Belgium's Tabu looks ahead to World Cup Qualifiers

ISTANBUL (FIBA Basketball World Cup European Qualifiers) - Jonathan Tabu is fully engaged with Belgium in his fourth straight FIBA EuroBasket, trying to help the Lions get another win or two to advance to the Round of 16.

On offense, the captain is hitting jump shots, scoring on drives to the basket, finding the open man while at the other end of the court he's stepping into passing lanes in a bid to come up with a steal or create chaos. Belgium opened their Group D campaign with a win over Great Britain but have since fallen to Latvia and Russia.

Tabu has one eye on the FIBA Basketball World Cup European Qualifiers

The 31-year-old has one eye on something else. He is thinking about the 32-team FIBA Basketball World Cup to be staged in China.

There will be six windows when national sides on the old continent will play in FIBA Basketball World Cup European Qualifiers, starting in November (Nov. 20-28) and continuing in February (Feb. 19-27) of 2018.

The third window will run from June 25 to 3 July, the fourth in September (10-18), the fifth from November 26 to December 4 and the sixth and last in February (20-28) in 2019.

Belgium are in the same group as France, Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"That's our goal, to be there (in China) in 2019," Tabu told FIBA.basketball. "We'll see how things work out because it's going to be the first time that FIBA ever does this so hopefully, everyone can show up and we can make a good run and then we can try and qualify."


Despite representing his country for many years, the 1.84m guard has never run onto the hardwood in front of his own fans to play a game with serious ramifications.

He's played at home in friendlies ahead of the EuroBasket or EuroBasket Qualifiers, but never in a meaningful game where a lot is at stake.

One positive aspect to the World Cup Qualifiers is that when they are played in Belgium, Tabu and his teammates can see familiar faces.

"That's the great part about this," Tabu said. "Now, we can go home, see the family and play in front of a home crowd."

Tabu, who is set to return to Bilbao after the EuroBasket, says that showing up for national team duty every year does take its toll. He wants to have more time off after the Liga Endesa campaign and now he will as the new format brings with it a significant scaling down of the preparation time required for qualifying games. 

FIBA's new competition system puts players first by reducing their workload, with the average reduction worldwide measured at 26 percent.

"That's the good part - we already show up in shape," Tabu pointed out. "I'm not getting any younger and you really feel it with the body. It's like my ninth year with the national team and every summer, instead of resting we started training... doing that earlier would have been better but at least the change has come."