By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
The US national team kicks off its run in the 2014 FIBA World Cup Saturday afternoon at 3:30 pm against Finland. While we’re all very excited to see what the latest squad Coach K and company have put together will do in real tournament action, there are a couple other players of interest for Philadelphia fans. The biggest of those guys being the one of their two 2014 first round picks that hasn’t become a twitter sensation, Dario Saric.
To some, the 6’10” point-forward from Croatia is just the guy for whom the Sixers passed on fan-favorite Doug McDermott. This tournament will be a great chance for that fan contingent to see what Sam Hinkie and company saw in Saric when they decided to select him following their draft-day trade with Orlando. In Croatia’s last exhibition game, Saric went for 16 points and 4 assists against Lithuania, and will play a huge role in his team’s push to advance out of the group stage. Croatia is actually playing its opening game of the tournament against the Philippines at 6:30 am, so for those early birds out there, you can check out what all the hype is about with Super Dario.
Two other international prospects to which the Sixers own the NBA rights will also be in action beginning this weekend. Arsalan Kazemi, the team’s 2013 2nd-round pick, will be doing battle with his Iranian national team. The former Oregon Duck is a key part of Iran’s big man rotation; you can see him face the Gasol brothers and Spain at 4:00 PM. Also, Furkan Aldemir, the big man who was a part of the Royce White trade with Houston, is on the roster for Turkey. He’s not expected to see significant playing time with Omer Asik manning the middle for Turkey, but his squad will be in action 10:00 AM against New Zealand.
We’re now about 2 months away from the start of the NBA season, but at least this year, we have some high-quality basketball overseas to whet the appetite. Not only can we watch the Stars and Stripes try to bring home gold, but this World Cup might provide a great glimpse into part of the Sixers’ future. After all, the future is all the Sixers are concerned about at this point.