Last week, I covered Nik Stauskas and his significant contributions to the Canadian national team at the FIBA Americas tournament. Stauskas and his fellow Canadians ultimately fell short in their attempt to clinch a berth in the 2016 Olympics – a quest that will have to be postponed until next summer – when they lost in the semifinals to the eventual champions Venezuela,. Sauce wasn’t the only Sixer in international action: Dario Sarić and Furkan Aldemir represented their countries in EuroBasket 2015 over the past several days. They, like Stauskas, had fairly successful tournaments but failed to obtain guaranteed spots in the Olympics.
As by far the youngest player on the Croatian national team, Sixers draftee Dario Sarić more than held his own. Sarić, despite how long it feels like we have waited for him, is only 21 years old, and as such, it is impressive how much respect he garners on the court. The veteran Croatians were not afraid to delegate some playmaking duties to the skilled Sarić, who saw plenty of the ball during his 28.7 minutes per game. Sarić also demonstrated leadership abilities well beyond his years – qualities that could help him transition to the NBA when he eventually comes over. On that note, the Croatian sensation recently expressed his desire to join the Sixers for the 2016-17 season.
Throughout his games at EuroBasket, Sarić struggled shooting the ball. He only ended up shooting 26.7% from three-point land, 44.7% overall from the field, and only 48% from the free-throw line. While these percentages are based on a small number of attempts, Sarić also goes through frequent cold spells as a shooter for his club team Anadolu Efes, including the particularly troublesome free-throw inconsistency. On the bright side, Sarić shone as a rebounder and a secondary playmaker. Although his turnover numbers were higher than you would like, he turned heads with several picture-perfect passes to set teammates up for easy buckets, like this one against Macedonia:
This kind of playmaking from a big position could provide an excellent complement to the skillsets of Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, and (hopefully) Joel Embiid when Sarić comes stateside.
Current Sixers big Furkan Aldemir only played 11.3 minutes per game for Turkey at EuroBasket 2015. Still, he played in every game and put in solid performances in his limited time. Aldemir, as we have come to expect, was a monster rebounder. He averaged 11.6 rebounds per 36 minutes, including an astounding 6.9 offensive rebounds per 36. Aldemir is, without exaggeration, one of the best board-getters in the world. He also works well as a screen-setter. In order to cement a place in the NBA, however, the big Turk needs to develop other areas of his game – shooting, for instance.
When we last saw Aldemir (in Summer League), he was working on adding a three-point shot to his repertoire. Unfortunately, we could not see the fruits of his efforts in this tournament since he only took one long-distance shot (which he missed) in his six games. If Aldemir can start to provide some better floor spacing, he could stick with the Sixers for the next few seasons. However, with the tremendously talented young bigs now on the roster, it is hard to picture Aldemir playing any sort of role once the team is ready to be competitive.
Here’s Aldemir finishing strong against France in one of his few scoring opportunities.
As EuroBasket is winding down, neither of the Sixer-affiliated players remain. Sarić’s Croatian team fell to Czech Republic in the Round of 16, and Aldemir’s Turkish team bowed out in the same round, losing to France. However, they each showed flashes of how they are capable of playing roles for the Sixers.