19 February, 2024
25 February, 2025
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10 things I loved from Continental Cups Window 1

VALENCIA (Jeff Taylor's Eurovision) - The international windows, which came into play in 2017 with FIBA's new competition system, just keep getting better in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Here are 10 things that stood out for me from the qualification games for the Continental Cups that were played from February 22 to 26. 

1 - How do you do, Jonas Delalieux?!

Holding my hand up here ... I'd never heard of Jonas Delalieux before this window. But he had the thrill of a lifetime while playing for Belgium for the first time, at the Slovak Republic and then at home against Spain. Go to the 5:20 mark on the extended highlights above and see him first drill a baseline jumper to cut Spain's lead to 39-37 late in the third quarter, and then immediately after bury a go-ahead three-ball. The Hubo Limburg United man who is 31 and measures 2.05m (6ft 9in) in height, was pivotal for Belgium.

2 - This is Avramovic's world and we just live in it


There was not a more popular man in Belgrade on February 23 than Aleksa Avramovic, a "do whatever it takes to win" player that has morphed into an international basketball star, which he confirmed at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Manila. He kept reconfirming that in this latest window, hustling his way to 18 points in a win over Finland and then scoring 12 and dishing out seven assists in a victory over Georgia. Avramovic had seven steals over the two games! No longer a marginal selection, Avramovic is a lynchpin. I want his autograph!

A few days later, back with Belgrade in Euroleague, he scored 30 in a win against Istanbul.

3 - Cubans can hoop!

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A post shared by FIBA AmeriCup (@americup)


I once knew Cuba for baseball, boxing, track and field, music, Fidel Castro and the best cigars in the world. But Cuba, who last played at the FIBA AmeriCup in 2015 in Mexico, play basketball! With just seven players to face the USA before a sparse crowd in Florida on February 23, Cuba lost 100-79, yet showed signs of being dangerous while shaving a 23-point deficit to 63-57 with 3:28 left in the third. Two days later and the teams met again, in Havana. With Pedro Bombino, Howard Sant-Roos and Marcos Chacon available after missing the first game, and with the help of a festive 7,532-strong crowd, Cuba were so good they led by 22 in the fourth quarter. They cruised to a 81-67 win. Thumbs-up to coach Onel Planas.

4 - Turkiye's Mr Clutch


No matter who plays for Turkiye down the road, be it in qualifiers or a FIBA EuroBasket 2025 itself, Tarik "Ice Running in His Veins" Biberovic, 23, is now the guy. After scoring 28 points at Italy on February 22, Biberovic beat Iceland with a go-ahead, game-winning turn-around jumper at the death in Turkey's next game three days later in Istanbul. The 12 Giant Men won, 76-75.

5 - Give Italy their props

Watch Gabriele Procida for Italy and you'll agree he's the most exciting up-and-coming talent in the team

Italy won twice in this window, seeing off a hardworking Turkiye on February 22 before traveling to a loud Szombathely Arena and blowing open a close game to defeat Hungary. Gabriele Procida, Giampaolo Ricci and John Petrucelli played hard for Italy in this window and were outstanding. Gianmarco Pozzecco had everyone locked in. Forget the embarrassing Quarter-Final defeat to USA at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Manila. I like Italy moving forward.

6 - Cape Verde and Libya

What a joy it was seeing Cape Verde turn on the style in this window and win all three games just months after making their bow at the FIBA Basketball World Cup. It turns out Ish Wainright of Uganda is not the only NFL player turned African national team star because Cape Verde's Marcos Santos Silva tried to make it with the Cleveland Browns before moving full steam ahead with basketball. He now plays for Lille in France. And what an impressive performance in this window for Libya, who last played at the AfroBasket when they hosted it over a decade ago.

7 - Syria's loyal fans might be the best in Asia

Syria saluted the fans that traveled to UAE and became the sixth man

It's not like Syria have had great teams over the years and won FIBA Asia Cup titles, yet their supporters show up in a big way and even support the team on the road!  Syria's Al Fayhaa Stadium in Damascus was standing room only on February 23. There were 8,500 spectators in the house cheering for the home team against Lebanon. Some of the fans then traveled and created all the noise when Syria won at UAE.

8 - Only one way for France, and it's 👆🏽

There everybody was, bashing the French for a disappointing FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 campaign that saw one of the best teams in recent times finish 18th out of 32 teams. Vincent Collet had his team laser focused in this window, and especially when they needed to be in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Maybe if Andrew Albicy and Vincent Poirier had been in Jakarta, Les Bleus would have seen off either Latvia or Canada. What was even more striking about France's effort against Bosnia and Herzegovina was the play of Matthew Strazel, Nadir Hifi and Jaylen Hoard. The newcomers to the team looked the part.

9 - Sellout cities

Tallinn was rocking as Estonia won the Baltic derby against Lithuania

There's nothing better than having a basketball game played in a full house, which happened in eight EuroBasket Qualifiers games. Where it clearly made a significant difference was in cities where home teams are not as high in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, as their opponents yet still won. I'm talking about Tallinn (Estonia beat Lithuania), Botevgrad (Bulgaria upset Germany), Charleroi (Belgium surprised Spain) and Partille (Sweden upset Bulgaria). In the Americas, it happened when Chile shocked Argentina.

10 - The wild, wild Americas!

Paul Stoll had 16 points, four assists and two steals as Mexico beat Dominican Republic, but only by seven points.

Just as the Americas Qualifiers for the FIBA Basketball World Cup turned out to be a crazy race to the finish, so could the qualifiers for FIBA AmeriCup 2025 in Nicaragua. Ten of the 16 teams in the qualifiers have one win and one loss. Two of the four groups have four 1-1 teams. Group C, which has Canada (2-0), Dominican Republic (1-1), Mexico (1-1) and Nicaragua (0-2) is really interesting.  Mexico likely need to sweep Nicaragua and also get a win over Canada to have a realistic shot of a FIBA AmeriCup berth. While Mexico got a split with the Dominican Republic in the opening window, the latter are +7 points differential in their two meetings.

Why is Mexico nervous? If Nicaragua finish fourth, which is possible, and maybe even likely, then unlike the other three groups, only the top two teams in Group C are assured of spots in the AmeriCup. The other team to advance would be the host, Nicaragua, although that is pending approval of the FIBA Americas Central Board. Nicaragua lost 96-51 at Canada and then 88-46 in Managua.

Jeff Taylor


FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor, a North Carolina native and UNC Chapel Hill graduate, has been a journalist since 1990. He started covering international basketball after moving to Europe in 1996. Jeff provides insight and opinion every week about players and teams on the old continent that are causing a buzz.