The World Cup is the moment that all teams and all players need to shine, but it’s also a great place to see the emerging talents of the best countries in the world. For, if you make it onto the roster of a team that will represent your country at the World Cup, the young talents are definitely an asset to their team.
Zhou Qi – China
Zhou Qi and two of his two teammates, Yi Lianlian and Wang Zhelin, received a big honor, as they’re currently called the ‘modern Walking Great Wall’, a term that was previously used to describe the Chinese team with Yao Ming.
That also shows the potential the team, and Zhou Qi, have. Zhou was waived by the Houston Rockets in December 2018 after 1,5 years, but he has improved a lot since then. He’s no longer just a rim protector, but can be an asset on both sides of the floor. And that’s exactly what China needs him to be.
China had a good preparation leading up to the World Cup, and Zhou Qi was a big factor in that.
Robert Bolick – Philippines
Bolick is definitely a promising players on the Gilas squad. Together with CJ Perez, his Philippines teammate, they were the top rookies of the PBA, the Philippines Basketball Association.
It wasn’t certain whether Bolick would make the final cut, but the young player did everything in his power to prove the team he belonged at the World Cup during the preparation. Bolick became top scorer in several game, he showed he could hold his own in international games.
Isaiah Pineiro – Puerto Rico
Pineiro had a busy summer, as he participated in the NBA Summer League, and secured a contract with the Sacramento Kings. The Kings signed him because of his potential and athleticism, and that’s exactly what he’ll have to show during the World Cup. If Pineiro is able to do a good job for his country, it’ll probably help him during his first season with the Kings as well.
Yuta Watanabe & Rui Hachimura – Japan
Both Watanabe and Hachimura are very important for Japan, and Japanese basketball. They’ve raised the expectations, as these two young players, Watanabe is 24 while Hachimura is just 21, are expected to lead Japan at the upcoming World Cup.
Their emergence is no surprise, as Hachimura developed into a big college star the last few years, got drafted into the NBA, and has already showed his skills during friendly games with Japan. Watanabe on the other hand, already has more professional experience, as he has been playing in the G-League the past two years. Though both of them might not be proven players on the professional level, they are able to carry the Japanese team, and they’re not close to reaching their potential.
Frank Ntilikina – France
This will be Ntilikina’s debut with the senior French team at a big tournament. He’s a young and talented player in a team full of (NBA) stars.
The 21-year-old will start his third NBA season this year, but hasn’t really been able to make an impact in the league. The World Cup is Ntilikina’s chance to show what he’s learned the past few years, and to prove he’s a real asset when he’s playing with other NBA players, such as Rudy Gobert and Nicolas Batum.