Arturs Zagars made basketball history by setting a new record for assists with a remarkable 17 dimes.
The Latvian point guard’s performance etched his name in the annals of the sport.
In a 98-63 victory over Lithuania, Zagars, despite scoring just 4 points, managed to achieve double-digit assists for the second time in the 2023 World Cup, securing fifth place for his team. What’s even more astounding is that he didn’t commit a single turnover throughout the game.
Here are the top assist records in a single FIBA World Cup game:
17: Arturs Zagars (LAT) vs. LTU 2023
15: Toni Kukoc (CRO) vs. CHN 1994
15: Carlik Jones (SSD) vs. ANG 2023
14: Xane Dalmeida (SEN) vs. PHI 2014
14: Carlik Jones (SSD) vs. PHI 2023
14: Paul Stoll (MEX) vs. EGY 2023
13: Scottie Wilbekin (TUR) vs. MNE 2019
13: Tomas Saturansky (CZE) vs. AUS 2019
13: Stefan Jovic (SRB) vs. SSD 2023
12: Achieved seven times in World Cup history
Zagars delivered his 16th assist with a drive and dish to Anzejs Pasecniks with just 3:11 minutes left in the game.
Speaking about his achievement, Zagars said, “Those are some big names. This is the World Cup, the highest stage you can play every four years. This is my first experience with the national team in any kind of tournament. I am so thankful that we could do this.”
Zagars also became the first player in FIBA World Cup history to finish a game with 12 or more assists without a single turnover, a feat that earned him widespread recognition.
Arturs Kurucs, a fellow Latvian player who had played alongside Zagars in youth national teams, praised his teammate’s skills, saying, “Everybody in basketball knows that is something unbelievable. He’s such a talented guy, and I hope he keeps going up.”
The 23-year-old Zagars broke the previous record of 15 assists, set by Croatian Toni Kukoc in 1994, during the 1994 World Cup, which marked the first time assists were officially recorded in the tournament.
Zagars had been exceptional throughout the World Cup, averaging 7.4 assists in his debut appearance on the senior global stage. NBA forward Davis Bertans commended Zagars, saying, “He had an amazing tournament even before this game. Just to finish it off with an unbelievable performance as the point guard and getting that many assists. He was more successful at the beginning of the tournament scoring-wise and still getting everybody else involved. Tonight he was just feeding everybody.”
Notably, only Ricky Rubio had more assists (82) than Zagars’ total of 59 in the FIBA World Cup before turning 24 years old.
Captain Dairis Bertans expressed his joy for Zagars, stating, “For us, that was the cherry on the top of the cake after the tournament we had. For him to finish with the assists record, it’s unbelievable. I’m so happy for him.”
Zagars’ exceptional playmaking ability was evident throughout the game, with his 14th assist in the third quarter coming in just his 19th minute of playing time, resulting in an impressive assist-per-40 minutes ratio of 29 assists.
Zagars entered the World Cup without a contract, but his stellar performance has likely secured him a lucrative deal in the future.