10 young players who impressed to close out the European Qualifiers
MUNICH (Germany) - Just as the previous five windows of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers, the final two gamedays featured some of the continent's top youngsters shining with their national teams.
We have chosen 10 players born in 2001 or later and reviewed how they performed in the final European Qualifiers window.
But before we run down why we picked the 10 names, we want you to tell us which young gun impressed most during the February 2023 games.
Can't figure out who to chose? Here is a breakdown of what the aforementioned players did in the final European Qualifiers window.
VICTOR WEMBANYAMA - France
Birth date: January 04, 2004 (19 years old)
Height: 219cm / 7'2"
Club: Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans (France)
February stats: 18.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 2.5 SPG, 4.5 BPG
Wembanyama certainly did not disappoint in his return to the French national team after his magical debut in November. The budding mega-star was exhilarating against Czech Republic with 22 points, 17 rebounds, 4 steals and 6 blocks - oh, and 4 three-pointers. In helping France get a second win, Wembanyama collected 15 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 3 blocks. The 19-year-old just continues to whet our appetite for more great performances.
NIKOS ROGKAVOPOULOS - Greece
Birth date: June 27, 2001 (21 years old)
Height: 203cm / 6’8"
Club: Yukatel Merkezefendi Belediyesi Genclik ve Spor Kulubu Dernegi (Turkey)
February stats: 28 PTS, 5 3PM, 4 REB, 1 AST, 3 STL in 1 game
Rogkavopoulos appeared in only one game, but what a game it was for the small forward. The 21-year-old drained 5 three-pointers in scoring 28 points in Greece's overtime win over Serbia. Rogkavopoulos also chipped in 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals in the dramatic triumph.
NICO MANNION - Italy
Birth date: March 14, 2001 (21 years old)
Height: 190cm / 6’3"
Club: Virtus Segafredo Bologna (Italy)
February stats: 19.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.5 APG, 3.0 SPG
Mannion had his best game of the European Qualifiers against Ukraine as he poured in 28 points but also dished out 6 assists to go with 4 steals. The guard had a strong balanced game in Italy's win over Spain with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals to help seal a perfect finish.
MANTAS RUBSTAVICIUS - Lithuania
Birth date: May 06, 2002 (20 years old)
Height: 199cm / 6'6"
Club: Lietkabelis Panevezys (Lithuania)
February stats: 7.0 PPG, 0.5 RPG, 1.0 APG
Rubstavicius made his debut with the senior national team in the European Qualifiers. The guard had a strong first game as he scored 12 points and dished out 1 assist in a win over Hungary. The 20-year-old then chipped in 2 points, 2 assists and 1 steal in a loss to France.
NOAM YAACOV - Israel
Birth date: October 20, 2004 (18 years old)
Height: 168cm / 6’1"
Club: Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem (Israel)
February stats: 15.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.5 SPG
Yaacov certainly showcased himself on the big stage with an excellent senior national team debut at the European Qualifiers. He scored 12 points with 2 assists and 1 steal in 19 minutes against Finland before fouling out late in the game. Yaacov, who during the season left ASVEL Villeurbanne to return home and play for Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, starred in Israel's win over Slovenia. The 18-year-old tallied 18 points to go with 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals.
YANNICK KRAAG -Netherlands
Birth date: October 16, 2002 (20 years old)
Height: 197cm / 6’6"
Club: Joventut Badalona (Spain)
February stats: 19.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG 1.5 SPG
With Netherlands long eliminated from World Cup contention, head coach Radenko Varagic gave Kraag plenty of time in the window. The 20-year-old wing scored a team-high 23 points while also grabbing 9 rebounds in a tight loss to Georgia. After playing 36 minutes against Georgia, Kraag played 29 minutes in a loss to Ukraine and contributed 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Kraag is another young talent that the Netherlands can look forward to helping take the next step.
JUSTUS HOLLATZ - Germany
Birth date: April 21, 2001 (21 years old)
Height: 191cm / 6’3"
Club: CB Breogan (Spain)
February stats: 5.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG 8.5 APG
Hollatz once again shined when he was given the chance to play. The point guard was the only German player to appear in all 12 of the European Qualifiers games. And the Spain-based playmaker made his case for a spot on the World Cup squad - and hopefully more than just a minor reserve role. He had 4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block in a win over Sweden and finished the qualification campaign with 6 points, 6 rebounds, 14 assists and 1 steal. The 14 assists tied the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers single-game high.
QUINN ELLIS - Great Britain
Birth date: April 1, 2003 (19 years old)
Height: 183cm / 6’0"
Club: J Basket Monferrato (Italy)
February stats: 13.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.0 APG
Ellis came into the window having only played 8 minutes in the European Qualifiers. But head coach Marc Steutel gave the 19-year-old guard a chance to show his mettle and the Italian-based guard did just that. He had a solid 5 points, 1 rebound and 4 assists against Belgium, and then struck a bit of fear into Serbia, at least for a while. Ellis drained 4 three-pointers and scored 22 points to go with 5 rebounds and 2 assists in a loss on the road.
GREGOR GLAS - Slovenia
Birth date: April 29, 2001 (21 years old)
Height: 198cm / 6’6"
Club: Mornar Basket (Montenegro)
February stats: 21.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Glas saw his first action in the Second Round of the European Qualifiers and he gave head coach Aleksander Sekulic some food for thought about an option for the World Cup squad. Guard spots are hard to come by in a stacked Slovenia team but Glas showed what he can do. He drained 4 three-pointers in scoring 18 points to go with 4 rebounds against Estonia. Glas then knocked down 4 more three-pointers against Israel and finished with 26 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block.
HUGO TOOM - Estonia
Birth date: October 25, 2002 (20 years old)
Height: 200cm / 6’7"
Club: BC Kalev/Cramo (Estonia)
February stats: 12.5 PPG 5.0 RPG 2.0 APG 1.5 SPG
Estonia continue to develop young talent and Toom is one of the next in line - as he showed in impressive fashion in the final window. He scored 15 points and had 4 rebounds and 1 assist against Slovenia. In the final game against Sweden, the 20-year-old forward collected 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.