By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
The NBA offseason can be a long and boring stretch for basketball fans, but with things ramping up for Rio 2016, we did have a bit of a reprieve in the form of international competitions. For Sixers fans, three players were of particular interest. Dario Saric and Furkan Aldemir competed in the EuroBasket tournament for Croatia and Turkey, respectively, while Nik Stauskas started for Team Canada in the FIBA Americas. With all three national teams now finished, let’s take a look on how those players performed.
Saric and Croatia were eliminated over the weekend by the Czech Republic in the Round of 16, 80-59. In that final contest, Dario finished a disappointing 1-7 from the field for just 4 points. Aside from that late hiccup, Saric showed a lot of promise, ending the competition with averages of 9.7 ppg, a team-best 6.3 rpg, and 2.7 apg.
His shooting did take a step back, as Saric was just 26.7% from behind the arc and 48.0% from the foul line during the competition. Ultimately, the shooting will be the pivot skill for Dario as to whether or not he can succeed as a stretch four at the NBA level, so it would have been nice to see a better performance in that area. Still, it was only 6 games, and with his making plays like the one below, there’s a lot to like.
— Friendly Bounce (@FriendlyBounce) September 13, 2015
Furkan Aldemir and Turkey also bowed out in the Round of 16, losing to the powerhouse French squad, 76-53. Furkan finished that contest with 7 points and 4 rebounds in just 13 minutes of action, a trend that was present throughout the competition. Aldemir averaged just 11.3 minutes per contest, scoring 3.2 ppg and collecting 3.7 rpg. We didn’t get to see the evolution of stretch F(o)urkan either, as Aldemir attempted just 1 three in the tournament (missing it).
Finally, Nik Stauskas suffered a case of food poisoning, playing just limited action in Canada’s semifinal game, in which the team could have certainly used him at full strength. In a stunner, Canada was upset by Venezuela, falling 79-78 on a controversial foul call in the closing seconds. The refs seriously called a foul under the basket on Team Canada (in white) on this play.
Stauskas would have to sit out the bronze medal game, and the Canadian team was not without drama once again. Fortunately for them, it turned out alright on this occasion, as Cory Joseph hit a last-second shot to give Canada an 87-86 win over Mexico. That shot by Joseph was huge, as it allows Canada to play in one of the three, 6-team pre-qualifying tournaments prior to next summer’s Olympics.
As for Stauskas, he shined south of the border when he wasn’t eating bad Mexican food, concluding the team’s 9-game run in Mexico with averages of 12.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. Most promisingly, he shot 53% from inside the arc, and an even 50% (18-36) from downtown. Those are exactly the kind of efficient shooting numbers the Sixers are hoping to receive this winter and for years to come.