Five things to know ahead of the final day in second group phase at the 2019 FIBA World Cup
Fournier takes off
France have always been lucky to be led by magnificent, charismatic players in its long and glorious basketball history. It looks like the time has come for Evan Fournier to put his name on that special list.
The 27-year-old Orlando Magic guard seems to be the right man in the right place, leading the way for the 2013 European Champions.
The 2.01m tall Fournier is picking up where he left off last April with the Magic. He averaged 15.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.6 assist in the past NBA season.
In France’s first four games at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Fournier has emerged as the team leader, averaging 18.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, shooting 46.2% from three-point territory.
Fournier was a member of the “Bleus” bronze medal-winning squad in the 2015 European Championship on home soil. In the Euro two years later he was ejected against Slovenia for improper conduct.
The Group K thriller
Things are completely settled in three out of four second round groups. Six teams are already on their way to Dongguan or Shanghai for the quarter-finals, but the final pair is still to be decided.
What is the scenario in group K in Shenzen?
Even two-time defending champion United States could theoretically still crash out - despite a perfect 4-0 record so far.
How? The tournament favourites would need to lose to Brazil by 22 points or more, AND the Czech Republic would need to beat Greece.
The Greek team, on the other side, has to produce at least a 12-point win over the Czech Republic to take second place and continue its journey in China. If they fail to do so, the Czechs, participating in the World Cup for the first time, will advance to the quarters
And then there is Brazil. Should the South Americans prevail over Team USA and Greece beat the Czech Republic, Brazil and five-time world champions USA will go through.
All games involving Greece at this World Cup are developing into seminars on defense. Every coach comes up with a different approach on how to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Brazil's coach Aleksandar Petrović ordered Alex Garcia to guard the NBA superstar who had a height advantage of 22cm. Bruno Caboclo was supposed to support Garcia.
New Zealand's Paul Henare used a lot of zone defense to close any possible path to the paint for the NBA MVP.
Team USA Coach Gregg Popovich put - at one point - four players in a straight line in an effort to cut off Giannis' way to the basket - and prevent a possible pass to the Greek giant.
And what will the Czechs do? Coach Ronen Ginzburg has stated that he intends to use a box-and-one defense against the “Greek Freak”.
Scola still going strong
Luis Scola will turn 40 in seven months but he is still a pillar of strength for Argentina.
Born on 30 April, 1980, Scola is the last remaining member of the Athens 2004 gold medal-winning squad. Manu Ginobili, Andrés Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto, Carlos Delfino and the rest of the 2004 team have all retired. Scola has no intention to do so (yet).
The centre contributed no less than 21 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals, leading “Alma Argentina” to a 91-65 win over Poland. His team will now face Serbia, in what some consider a rematch of the unforgettable 2002 Basketball World Cup Final. Scola was part of the Argentinian team then.
Scola feels right at home in China as he played the last two years for the Shanxi Brave Dragons and the Shanghai Sharks.
In his ten years in the NBA he averaged of 12.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.6 assists.
You can watch the Olympic Channel documentary "Golden Generation" here:
Nigeria and Iran qualify for Tokyo 2020
While Spain defeated Serbia 81-69 and will now face Poland in the quarterf-inals, Nigeria and Iran were celebrating their automatic qualification for Tokyo 2020.
The Africans beat hosts China, 86-73, becoming the third team to secure a place in the Olympic tournament.
Iran followed suit thanks to a 95-75 win over the Philippines.
Host country Japan automatically qualified for the Games, followed by Oceania representatives Australia. Eight spots for the 12-team Olympic tournament are yet to be filled.
Four of them - two for Europe and two for the Americas - will be decided at the 2019 Basketball World Cup.
The four remaining places will be awarded via four Olympic qualifying tournaments featuring a total of 26 national teams: 16 from the FIBA Basketball World Cup final standings (excluding the seven teams that will have already qualified), plus two teams per FIBA region (Europe, Americas, Asia, Africa, and Oceania).