In few days, the FIBA World Cup 2023 begins. As the FIBA World Cup is a major international competition, a lot of established NBA and Euroleague stars are participating and it’s logical that all the lights will be on them.
However, traditionally, the chaotic and circumstantial nature of such tournaments (i.e. their short duration and player injuries and retirements) provides always opportunities for lesser-known players to be introduced at a wider basketball stage and be important part of a good run or even a medal run.
In my opinion, 4 under 25-year-old lesser-known players that can have an impact at the FIBA World Cup 2023 and are worth to watch are the following:
Yago Mateus dos Santos (PG, 1.78 m, age 24, Brazil)
The former Ratiopharm Ulm point guard has been impressive at the FIBA World Cup preparation games so far for Brazil. Despite his height, the Brazilian guard possesses excellent court vision and ball handling while being always ready to score with his reliable perimeter shooting.
Obviously, his height limits his game (mostly on defense), but he has the intangibles to succeed in a competition like the FIBA World Cup where individual offensive skills are valuable due to limited preparation time for the participating teams.
Yago Dos Santos won the German Basketball Bundesliga in his first season in Europe, won the Basketball Bundesliga Finals MVP and in the 2023-2024 season will play for EuroLeague club Crvena Zvezda.
Nikos Rogkavopoulos (SF, 2.03 m, age 22, Greece)
After an eventful preparation period for the Greek team, where it was announced that among others Kostas Sloukas, Nick Calathes and Giannis Antetokounmpo will not participate at the FIBA World Cup, one could say that this is one of the weakest Greek rosters of the last 30 years.
The Greek NT seems very thin at the PG and Center positions with very few quality options across its roster, especially on the offensive end. One of the few offense-oriented players in Greece’s roster is Nikos Rogkavopoulos.
The new Baskonia signing has a golden opportunity to be a pillar for his team as he could play also the shooting guard position, something useful for a team like Greece that will probably try to have line-ups based on size for defensive purposes.
Also, the Greek forward possesses a reliable offensive on-ball and off-ball game and after a slow start at the FIBA World Cup preparation games he seems to find good rhythm in the offense.
Jean Claudio Montero (PG, 1.88 m, age 20, Dominican Republic)
Jean Montero is not exactly an unknown player, having won the 2023 ACB Best Young Player Award. The 20-year-old Dominican is a scoring machine, possessing a great first step and good finishing around the rim.
Montero can help an already very talented Dominican Republic squad to have a breakthrough tournament and compose with Andrés Feliz a strong PG duo. Recently, some rumors about a possible signing with Anadolu Efes have surfaced for the talented point guard.
Juan Núñez (PG, 1.92 m, age 19, Spain)
Even if his participation in the FIBA World Cup is probably circumstantial due to the absences of Ricky Rubio and Lorenzo Brown, Juan Núñez proved to be ready for the big stage in the FIBA World Cup 2023 preparation games.
Despite his lack of experience, the 19-year-old PG from Madrid posted solid minutes against difficult opponents (14 min. against Team USA with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists, 22 minutes against the Dominican Republic with 16 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist).
Núñez is a great passer for his age that can run the offense and facilitate when needed while being very mature with his decision making. Like Yago Dos Santos, Juan Núñez was a 2023 BBL champion with Ratiopharm Ulm.