The 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, Philippines will tip off in just a few hours.
Basketball fans, most especially the home side, are excited to witness high-level international teams slug it out for one of three remaining spots to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Aside from marquee names like Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw, Omer Asik, Andray Blatche, Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson, and Corey Webster, people should keep an eye on 10 other players who could make impact for their respective teams.
Nando De Colo, France
De Colo was a regular starter for France in the team’s 2015 FIBA EuroBasket campaign.
De Colo led the team in scoring with 13.1 PPG. He also shot 42.9 percent from three-point area and averaged 3.7 APG. De Colo usually starts as Parker’s backcourt partner. When Parker is on the floor, De Colo ismore of a shooter and has more of an off the ball role. But when Parker sits, De Colo takes care of the facilitating duties.
Isaac Fotu, New Zealand
Fotu is the Tall Blacks’ chief big man. He averaged 9 PPG and 9 RPG in the 2015 FIBA Oceanias. He moves well without the ball and is a hardworker around the rim.
Gabe Norwood, Philippines
Norwood was recently named captain of the Gilas Pilipinas side. One of the longest-tenured members of the national team, Norwood is also one of its most efficient members. The versatile wing man is an excellent on-ball defender. Aside from that, he can also offer a lot on the offensive end.
Semih Erden, Turkey
The Turkish big was the team’s third leading scorer during the 2015 EuroBasket, averaging 13.2 PPG. Erden shot a whopping 74 percent from the field, usually getting baskets around the rim. Expect him to be trouble for opposing squads inside the paint.
Antoine Mendy, Senegal
Mendy was Senegal’s second leading scorer behind Gorgui Dieng in the 2015 FIBA AfroBasket. He averaged 16.3 PPG. Mendy can play both the guard and forward spots, and provides Senegal with reliable shooting and space. In the AfroBasket, he shot 35.8 percent from the outside.
Melvin Ejim, Canada
The former Iowa State forward was the Big 12 Player of the Year back in 2014. He has a penchant for getting into good positions for high-percentage shots. With most of Canada’s bigs like Kelly Olynyk, Robert Sacre, and Andrew Nicholson not participating, expect Ejim to get regular rotation minutes in the four spot.
Terrence Romeo, Philippines
It does not take one that long to love Romeo for what he does on the floor. The point guard is known for his quickness and aggressiveness in getting to the rim and hitting outside shots, while also being an entertaining player. In this tournament though, expect him to take it to a whole new level.
Michael Karena, New Zealand
Karena is an intriguing addition to the Kiwis. He averaged 9.9 PPG and 3.7 RPG for the Wright State Raiders in the US NCAA Division I. Since New Zealand is without Casey Frank and Steven Adams, the 6-foot-10 big is expected to get some spotlight.
Ali Muhammed, Turkey
Turkey’s naturalized playmaker who is also known by his American name Bobby Dixon averaged 15 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 4.8 APG in the 2015 EuroBasket. The diminutive point guard is a reliable pull-up shooter and also has great vision, which will help his entire team.
Brady Heslip, Canada
Heslip was a regular starter in Canada’s 2015 FIBA Americas Championship run. The sharpshooter out of Baylor gives the team an added dimension when it comes to outside shooting. In the 2015 Pan Am Games, Heslip averaged 13 PPG on 39.4 percent three-point shooting, helping Canada take home a silver medal.