The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 introduced new awards for outstanding achievements,
Recognizing the Best Defensive Player, Best Coach, and All-Second Team in the realm of men’s national team competition.
For the All-Second Team, the distinguished players include Arturs Zagars of Latvia, Simone Fontecchio of Italy, Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania, Nikola Milutinov of Serbia, and Franz Wagner of Germany.
Latvia’s remarkable 5th place finish in the tournament owed much to the wizardry of point guard Arturs Zagars, whose exceptional leadership and playmaking skills were instrumental. Zagars averaged 12.4 points and 7.4 assists per game, delivering a historic performance with 17 assists and 0 turnovers against Lithuania.
Simone Fontecchio continued to shine, building on his previous successes in Tokyo 2020 and FIBA EuroBasket 2022. The Italian forward displayed his scoring prowess, averaging 18.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, with a standout 30-point performance in a crucial comeback victory against Serbia.
Jonas Valanciunas demonstrated an unparalleled combination of low post-scoring and relentless rebounding, with steady averages of 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. His performance included a memorable victory against the USA, making him only the second player (alongside Jose Ortiz) to record multiple double-doubles in three World Cup tournaments since 1994.
Nikola Milutinov’s consistent and fundamental play in both offensive and defensive facets was pivotal for Serbia’s journey to the finals. The 28-year-old center averaged 12.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, showcasing a remarkable 66.1% shooting efficiency from the field.
Franz Wagner displayed remarkable resilience, recovering swiftly from an ankle injury during the World Cup. His contributions extended far beyond his stats, with averages of 16.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. Wagner’s standout performances in elimination games, including victories over Latvia and the USA, solidified his place in the All-Second Team.
The Best Defensive Player award rightfully belongs to Dillon Brooks, whose exceptional defensive prowess greatly benefited Bronze medalists Canada. Brooks’ lockdown one-on-one defense against top-tier opponents like Luka Doncic and Evan Fournier played a pivotal role in crucial victories for Canada, contributing to one of the tournament’s best defensive units.
The coveted title of Best Coach goes to Latvia’s head coach, Luca Banchi. His leadership was instrumental in Latvia’s historic 5th-place finish in their first-ever World Cup appearance. Banchi has also guided the team to an impressive 21-3 record since taking charge before the World Cup Pre-Qualifiers. Under his guidance, Latvia played a beautiful brand of basketball characterized by teamwork and an average of 24.4 assists per game, proving their mettle against the world’s top stars.