Eight eye-catching stats and facts ahead of Gameday 3
MUNICH (Germany) - The waiting for the next instalment of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers is almost over with the second window taking place this week.
There's plenty to look forward to with the crucial home-and-away double-headers on the menu with several teams in line to take major steps towards the Second Round.
Ahead of the upcoming feast of international basketball, we've put together some interesting facts and stats ahead of Gameday 3 to make sure you know what to keep an eye out for.
Balcerowski's block barrage
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Aleksander Balcerowski leads the European Qualifiers in blocks with a total of nine across the first two games for Poland. The 21-year-old has more blocks than 30 teams collectively with Sweden the only team in double figures in the category.
Poland take on Estonia in Tallinn (Friday, February 25) and Lublin (Monday, February 28) and their opponents will surely need to be wary of the Polish giant.
Russia roll, Dutch downfall
Russia have won their last seven games in FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers after making a 2-0 start to this current campaign. Their last defeat came against Czech Republic in September 2018. Meanwhile, their opponents, Netherlands, are on an eight-game losing streak in World Cup Qualifiers since beating Italy in July 2018.
Will the tables turn or will these streaks be extended, when the sides face in Group H?
France have conceded an average of 63 points per game at home in the FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers. In the first window, they held Montenegro to 67 points in the first of their two wins having never lost on home soil in World Cup Qualifiers.
Pau provided the backdrop for the opening home success with France next heading to Dijon to take on Portugal this week for the first men's international in the town for two decades.
"It makes us happy every time we play home games in France," said Boris Diaw, who now serves as the General Manager of the national team.
"One of the purposes of the French national team is to also be close to the public. There are a lot of cities with a lot of basketball fans and Dijon is certainly one of them. The atmosphere in the arena is always hot. And we always look for such places with Team France."
Lithuania's depth proved effective in the first window with their bench contributing 54.5 points per game across the first two games. The team also scored 25 points per game off of turnovers - both averages more than any other in the European Qualifiers.
Lithuania have also won 13 of their 14 games in FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers with their only loss coming against Italy on the road in November 2018.
In February, they will be involved in a Group F double-header against Bosnia and Herzegovina in a matchup between two undefeated teams. Will the bench come to Lithuania's rescue once again?
Ludvig Hakanson is the only player to record 20+ points and 10+ assists in multiple games in the FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers. The Swedish guard did this in each of the opening two encounters in the November window with 20 points and 10 assists against Finland before contributing 21 points and 14 assists in a loss to Slovenia.
Sweden take on a Croatia side that have lost their last five games in the competition and Hakanson could well be key if they are to come out on top with the first encounter in Zagreb.
Sharing's caring for Serbia
Serbia average 23.7 assists per game at home - more than any other European team in FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers. They recorded 22 assists in their opening win against Latvia in Belgrade with Milos Teodosic leading the team with nine. No other team has finished with 20+ assists in every home game in the competition.
Serbia return to Belgrade for the first of two clashes with Slovakia and will look for more of their impressive ball movement to help pave the way for a return to winning ways on home soil.
Prepelic prepared and precise
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No player scored more points than Klemen Prepelic when averaging less than 25 minutes per game in the first window of the European Qualifiers and no player scored more free throws than Slovenia's talisman. Prepelic made the most of his time on court; scoring a combined 46 points across the two wins with 21 of those coming from the foul line with just three missed attempts.
Both of the two wins were decided by five points or less and if Slovenia are to be tested again in their double-header with Finland then they will look to rely on the composure of Prepelic in the big moments.
No place like home
Italy have lost their last three away games in FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers action with all three defeats coming by a margin of 13+ points. Of their five losses in the competition, four have been away from home, while Iceland have won two of their three home games in total having been on the road for both games in the first window.
The two teams meet in Hafnarfjodur on Gameday 3 before the return fixture takes place in Bologna with both looking to make the most of home advantage in the Group H double-header.