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FIBA World Cup: Standout performers from the group stage

The first group stage of the 2023 FIBA World Cup is now complete and the second round begins on Friday, with four more groups lined up.

Pre-tournament favorites Team USA emerged from Group B with a perfect record but they aren’t the only team to have won all three of their games so far, with Spain, Serbia, Lithuania, Germany, Slovenia and Canada all coming through without defeat.

There have been some huge performances along the way, and we’ve picked out some of the standout teams from the first round.

Doncic stars for Slovenia

It makes sense to begin with the statistical leaders for our standout performers and it should come as no major shock to see that Luka Doncic has been in fine form for Slovenia.

The Dallas Mavericks star is widely regarded as one of the greatest European players of all time and he is the clear scoring leader, averaging 30 points-per-game - six more than closest rival Jordan Clarkson of the Philippines.

Doncic is also averaging 8.4 assists and 7.0 rebounds per-game, and he is leading the way in steals at an average of 3.0 per-game.

Tavares impresses as Cape Verde bow out

Edy Tavares’ World Cup bid is over after his Cape Verde side were eliminated but the Real Madrid center did at least manage to finish the first round as the rebound leader at an average of 12.0 per-game. 

It is a similar story for assist leader Carlik Jones of the Chicago Bulls as his South Sudan side fell short in Group A, with an overtime defeat to Puerto Rico in their opener proving decisive, despite his 9.3 assists per-game.

OKC and Minnesota stars in MVP race

Doncic is the frontrunner at present for the FIBA World Cup MVP award and he is +600 to be named the NBA MVP next season for the first time in his career.

The other contenders for the individual honor in the tournament in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines also play in the NBA, with Canada guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Karl-Anthony Towns of the Dominican Republic putting in some huge performances.

Gilgeous-Alexander had 27 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in an upset win over France. 

The Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star had a quiet game against Lebanon but then weighed in with 27 points against Latvia.

Towns, who plays for Minnesota Timberwolves, has been the Dominicans’ key player and is averaging 19.3 points-per-game, 7.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists - despite limited minutes in his last outing against Angola.

Gilgeous-Alexander is +2000 to be named the NBA MVP next season and Towns is rated at +7000.

Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic opened his World Cup bid with a double-double for Montenegro against Mexico and will be among the MVP contenders if his side manages to go deep in the tournament. 

Gilgeous-Alexander’s OKC teammate Josh Giddey has been in fine form for Australia, coming close to a triple-double against Finland and posting 26 points, 5 rebounds and 11 assists in 31 minutes against Japan.

Team USA sharing the responsibility

Two of the last three FIBA World Cup MVPs have been American as Kyrie Irving picked up the award in 2014, with Kevin Durant having earned the accolade four years earlier.

This year, Team USA doesn’t necessarily have one standout performer as in the opener against New Zealand it was NBA Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero who did the damage with 21 points from the bench.

In the win over Greece, Austin Reaves led the scoring with 15 points in 17 minutes and he was one of four players to reach double figures - although only Anthony Edwards played for over 20 minutes in that game.

Edwards has possibly been the most consistent performer for the USA and he led the scoring with 22 points, including three of his five three-point attempts, in the 110-62 win over Jordan, as well as adding eight rebounds and four assists.

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