12 - 20
August 2023
55 Luka Garza (BIH)
to read

VOTE: Will Garza and Balcerowski be the future leaders of their national teams?

GLIWICE / TALLINN (Poland-Estonia) - The 2023 FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Poland-Estonia has been the land of the big men, with several games decided on the glass due to mismatches.

Taking into account Jusuf Nurkic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Roman Sorkin of Israel, it’s not surprising to see these two experienced centers being in the Top-Five for the highest performance efficiency valuation per game at 18.7 and 18.0 respectively. 

While they represent the present strength of their national teams in enriching Bosnia and Herzegovina and Israel’s way of playing basketball, two other giants have been showing since the beginning of the tournament.

Luka Garza and Aleksander Balcerowski have been influential for their national teams in different ways. Now let’s dive straight into the debate: will they be the future leaders for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Poland?

A promising Bosnia and Herzegovina debut for the giant Garza

Before the start of the 2023 FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Poland-Estonia, the only yellow jersey Luka Garza put on was the Iowa Hawkeyes’ one in College -  entering the list as one of the best NCAA players in the whole country.

Now he can finally wear one for the senior national team  - whether yellow or sometimes when it is blue, like on August 13, when he dropped a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds against Portugal in his debut.

Sharing the locker room with his cousin Amar Alibegovic, the 24-year-old Washington native is the perfect archetype of the modern center: he can damage you in the low post and at the same time has the ability to stretch the floor. Difficult to stop physically, he can also count on a fancy footwork which he has been working on relentlessly during the past few years.

If we consider Jusuf Nurkic’s late portion of career still in the NBA, with the necessity of potentially missing some international appointments with the national team, Luka Garza could now step in to start more and more games for the Dragons. With Dzanan Musa still there, it's looking like they could form a dynamic duo. But has Garza got what's needed to rise the top of the senior team list?

Balcerowski already in line to make magic with Poland

When you’ll tune into the Semi-Finals clash between Estonia and Poland and maybe even the Final if his team make it, make sure to keep an eye on Aleksander Balceroswki, or 'Olek' to his friends. You may know him way back from the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, where at 18 years of age, he played 24 minutes against a legend like Luis Scola.

The now  22-year-old has grown both at club and national team level, turning into the must-watch talent of this competition while playing on a court just two hours drive from his native town of Świdnica. After stealing the show at FIBA EuroBasket 2022, he's averaged 14.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, shooting 63.2% from two-point range.  Suffering mostly against the Bosnia and Herzegovina centers in the Group Phase, he absolutely dominated against Hungary and helped his team get past Portugal.

With AJ Slaughter reaching the sunset boulevard of his basketball career, and both Michal Sokolowski and Mateusz Ponitka entering their 30's, is one of the most skilled and versatile European centers out there is set to take the Polish throne for future international competitions?