MIES (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers) - We've been watching them for years, prodigious talents that dreamed of playing on the big stage with their senior national sides.
During the November World Cup Qualifiers, some of those rising stars began to take off.
When the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 rolls around, you might just see Sun Minghui on the roster of the host nation, China. In their toughest game of the November World Cup Qualifiers at Korea, a team that had just travelled to New Zealand and beaten the Tall Blacks, Sun played 32 minutes and scored 21 points. He scored on drives, mid-range jump shots and 3-pointers. Sun has improved dramatically since his appearance with China at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Greece.
Stefan Peno, Serbia
Herve Kabasele, Democratic Republic of Congo
Juan Ducasse, Uruguay
Uruguay coach Franco Signorelli likes the potential of 19-year-old Juan Ducasse, a 6ft 8in (2.04m) forward that he called into the national team for this summer's FIBA AmeriCup. After playing sparingly in that competition, Ducasse got a lot of minutes for his country in their wins over Panama and Paraguay. In a come-from-behind triumph over the Panamanians, Ducasse made his three shots - all 3-pointers - and grabbed 5 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. He had 7 points and 4 rebounds in Uruguay's victory over Paraguay. Ducasse is following in the footsteps of Canada's greatest ever player, Steve Nash, by accepting at scholarship to play at Santa Clara University as a part of the 2018-19 freshman class.
Dzanan Musa, Bosnia and Herzegovina
If you're still scratching your head and wondering how an 18-year-old can be a pivotal player for his senior national team, all we need say is this: If you're good enough, you're old enough. Before we watched Slovenia's Luka Doncic blossom as an 18-year-old and claim a spot on the All-Star Five at FIBA EuroBasket 2019, we saw Musa wheel and deal in the World Cup Pre-Qualifiers for Bosnia and Herzegovina. And in their first World Cup Qualifier on home soil against Russia? Musa, a 6ft 7in (2.02m) small forward lived up to the hype by scoring 18 points and dishing out 8 assists. Okay, he struggled in the next game at France but there's no doubting that this player has got what it takes to play big minutes for his country.
Abudushala Abudurexiti, China
China had not just the rising star Sun in their World Cup Qualifiers but also Abudurexiti. The 21-year-old forward had 10 points in the win over Hong Kong but really impressed against Korea with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks. Against the Koreans, Abudurexiti was so good that the coach didn't want him off the floor. He played 34 minutes of his team's 92-81 victory. And get this - he wears number 23!
Joao Jungo, Angola
Remember three years ago in Dubai, when Angola showed up with a promising and very athletic team at the FIBA U17 World Championship? Among them was the 6ft 6in (1.98m) forward Jungo, who averaged 12 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Fast-forward to the World Cup African Qualifiers in his hometown of Luanda last month and there he was, more mature and stronger in every sense of the word. Playing for new coach Will Voigt, Jungo played 11 very important minutes against Egypt, a game that Angola came from behind to win, 68-64. Angola were +6 when Jungo, who corralled 5 rebounds, was on the floor. Competition for places in the Angola squad is fierce, but Jungo will no doubt have his chances to represent his homeland when they next run onto the court at the end of June.