Several stars of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup shone bright on the first day of the FIBA World Cup in China.
Group A's opener saw Poland overcome Venezuela 80-69 as Mateusz Ponitka of EuroLeague newcomer Zenit St Petersburg – who turned 26 on the eve of the tournament – played a prominent part for the victors with 15 points and 5 rebounds. A pair of EuroCup players also assisted Poland's victory, with Adam Hrycaniuk of Asseco Arka Gdynia grabbing a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds while Unicaja Malaga's Adam Waczynski netted 13 points. In Group A's other game on Saturday, host China defeated Cote D'Ivoire 55-70.
Among the majority of players on Russia's roster who come from EuroLeague and EuroCup clubs, Mikhail Kulagin of CSKA Moscow took center stage with 16 points – including a pair of crucial late free throws to seal the deal – in his team's close-run 82-77 Group B win over Nigeria. His club teammate Andrey Vorontsevich also delivered the goods with 14 points, and another CSKA star, Nikita Kurbanov, produced a strong performance by combining 9 points with 7 rebounds.
A trio of Real Madrid players all excelled for Argentina in its 95-69 victory over Korea, also in Group B. Nicolas Laprovittola led the team in scoring with 17 points, Gabriel Deck added 12 and playmaker Facundo Campazzo combined 11 points with 6 assists. There was also a solid contribution from KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz's Luca Vildoza, who had 10 points and 4 assists.
And in Group C, Spain squashed Tunisia 101-62 with help from a number of EuroLeague stars. Sergio Llull of Real Madrid netted 4-of-6 three-pointers in a total of 16 points while dishing 5 assists, and FC Barcelona Lassa's Pau Ribas was also hot from long-range, making 4-of-5 shots from downtown. His clubmate Victor Claver had a strong all-round game, recording 12 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. In Group C's other game, Puerto Rico outlasted Iran 81-83 in the closest result of opening day
The opening game of the tournament saw Serbia cruise past Angola 105-59 as new Khimki Moscow Region signing Stefan Jovic was instrumental in that victory, leading his team from the backcourt with 9 assists. Olympiacos Piraeus big man Nikola Milutinov was also influential, scoring 14 points. Vladimir Lucic of FC Bayern Munich (7 points), Vasilije Micic of Anadolu Efes Istanbul (8 points) and Marko Simonovic of Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana (5 points) also contributed to the crushing win.
Also in Group D, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul's Luigi Datome and AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan's Amedeo Della Valle both scored 17 points in their team's impressive 108-62 victory over the Philippines. Milan's Paul Biligha and CSKA Moscow's Daniel Hackett were also in the starting five for the Italians, but Datome's perfect shooting night – 7-of-7 from the field – made him the star performer.
Plenty more EuroLeague and EuroCup players will join the party on Sunday, including tournament openers for Turkey, Lithuania, France, Germany and Greece.