(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
Zubac, Mykhailiuk to Represent National Teams in FIBA Qualifiers
Ivica Zubac and Svi Mykhailiuk have some business to attend to across the pond this week, as they look to push their national teams closer to a berth in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
This is a crucial two-game stretch for both Zubac’s Croatian team and Mykhailiuk’s Ukrainian side, who are both on the tipping point of qualification and elimination.
Zubac returns to his national team after starring for it during the June/July qualifiers.
He averaged 16.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, while shooting 10-of-14 from the field and 12-of-12 at the free throw line, as Croatia defeated Italy and Romania.
Croatia enter this qualification window armed with four NBA players — Zubac, Dario Saric, Bojan Bodgdanovic and Ante Zizic — against two teams without a single NBA representative.
However, they do begin by hosting 6-0 Lithuania on Friday at 11:15 a.m. PT before traveling to face Poland on Monday at noon.
With six games left in the qualification rounds, Croatia are in a four-way tie for third place.
The top three teams advance to the World Cup, and this window is particularly crucial since the other four games will take place during the NBA season, making Zubac and co. unavailable.
Meanwhile, Mykhailiuk will return to the Ukrainian national team for the first time since playing in the 2014 World Cup back when he was just 17 years old.
They start off against the top team in qualification, Spain, who have started 6-0 and are led by two-time Olympian Sergio Rodriguez.
After hosting the Spaniards on Friday at 9 a.m. PT, Ukraine then travel to Montenegro for a matchup on Monday at 11:15 a.m.
Mykhailiuk and five-year NBA pro Alex Len will look to lead Ukraine into the top half of their group, as they are currently tied with Montenegro for fourth place.
Each game for both Croatia and Ukraine will be broadcast on ESPN+ and LiveBasketball.TV.