03/05/2021

FIBA Esports Open: Three Must-Watch Team USA Matchups

4 min read
FIBA Esports Open: Three Must-Watch Team USA Matchups

This afternoon marks Team USA’s virtual FIBA debut. Over the course of this weekend, the team will play six different single-elimination matchups with the hopes of advancing to Sunday’s best-of-three finals. I highlighted three ‘must-watch- matchups below (vs. Puerto Rico, vs. Canada, vs. Dominican Republic).

You can catch all of the action on FIBA’s Twitch channel. If you need a preview of Team USA’s roster, click here. Let’s get into it.

Team USA vs. Puerto Rico

Roster Comparison

Point Guard: JBM, KennyGotWork vs. Jomar, WolfTooClutch, oYoungStar

Secondary: OriginalMalik vs. WolfTooClutch, oYoungStar

Lock: Crushy vs. Wolf

Power Forward: Ramo vs. xoLebron

Center: Ria, ALitteLady vs. oLarry, Flakito

**POSITIONS ARE PROJECTIONS**

Puerto Rico rosters three professional NBA 2K League players in Jomar (Pacers Gaming), Wolf (Pacers Gaming), and oLarry (formerly Cavs Legion GC). Projected power forward starter, xoLebron, is among the best at his position in the upcoming 2021 draft class. WolfTooClutch, oYoungStar, and Flakito are all aspiring pros, competing in league tournaments during the offseason. This will be a competitive team and no easy first matchup of the day for Team USA.

Key Matchup

JBM or KennyGotWork vs. Wolf

With three seasons of NBA 2K League play on his resume, Wolf is undoubtedly the most experienced lockdown defender Team USA is slated to square off against this weekend. Even in a down year last season, Wolf posted solid averages of 10.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game, filling multiple roles in the lineup for Pacers Gaming. Today, he’ll be tasked with locking up two of the best point guards in the entire world.

KennyGotWork most recently rewrote the NBA 2K League record book, winning a pair of tournaments, finishing the regular season unscathed at 16-0, and topping it off with a league MVP award. His backcourt counterpart, JBM, just capped off his rookie year with a championship after being selected first overall in the 2020 NBA 2K League draft. Whether it’s KennyGotWork or JBM starting as lead ball-handler this afternoon, Wolf will have his hands full.

When

Round One, December 19, 2020 (12:55 P.M. est.)

Team USA vs. Canada

Roster Comparison

Point Guard: JBM, KennyGotWork vs. Sav, Mihaz

Secondary: OriginalMalik vs. RipRell, Mihaz

Lock: Crushy vs. Goon

Power Forward: Ramo vs. Yusuf_Scarbz, Dhuggz

Center: Ria, ALitteLady vs. Yusuf_Scarb (or) AuthenticAfrican

**POSITIONS ARE PROJECTIONS**

No question about it, If you’re going to pick just one Team USA matchup to watch today, this is it. Team Canada has legitimate superstar talent on their roster. Sav, selected No. 7 overall by Lakers Gaming last season, just recorded impressive rookie season numbers (33 points, 8.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game).

Yusuf was a key cog in Kings Guard Gaming’s top flight NBA 2K League defense, earning Season Three All-NBA 2K League Second Team + All-Defensive Team honors. AuthenticAfrican holds the record for most points ever scored in a single NBA 2K League game, recording 84 points in a season one matchup against 76ers GC.

Goon, Dhuggz, and RipRell are all potential professionals, with each earning draft eligibility via team tournaments this offseason. Mihaz, a late addition to the squad, is projected to serve as Team Canada’s backup ball-handler, with the ability to log minutes at the shooting guard position as well.

Key Matchup

Crushy vs. Sav

Crushy is world-class lockdown defender (2020 No. 3 overall pick), making the All-Defensive Team as a rookie. Selected just four spots after him? Starting Team Canada point guard, Sav, a one-man-army on the offensive end of the court. As the top-end of the 2020 lottery prepare to face off, all eyes should be on this matchup.

When

Round One, December 19, 2020 (3:20 P.M. est.)

Team USA vs. Dominican Republic

Roster Comparison

Point Guard: JBM, KennyGotWork vs. BOHIO, Mirabal

Secondary: OriginalMalik vs. Rando, SubXo

Lock: Crushy vs. Majestic

Power Forward: Ramo vs. Glo

Center: Ria, ALitteLady vs. Tactuk

**POSITIONS ARE PROJECTIONS**

Dominican Republic might have the most roster depth out of any Team USA opponent today. Four out of five positions are filled by players with NBA 2K League experience. BOHIO was most recently the fourth overall selection in last season’s NBA 2K League draft. Rando (2019; No. 30), Majestic (2018; No. 28), and Tactuk (2020; No. 24) were all high second-round selections in their respective draft classes.

Glo is regarded as a top power forward prospect headed into the 2021 draft. SubXo is a sharpshooting two-guard, earning draft eligibility in Hawks Talon GC’s league tournament last month. Rounding out the roster is Mirabal, who’s expected to serve as the team’s backup ball-handler.

Key Matchup

Frontcourt vs. Froncourt

Ramo (PF) and Ria (C) vs. Glo (PF) and Tactuk (C). Dominican Republic power forward Glo, while a top prospect, is the only non-proffessional starter in this matchup. Ramo, a savvy 2K veteran with plenty of experience, will be looking to take advantage of that.

We all know Ria was a top-two center in the NBA 2K League last year. Today, he’s matched up with Tactuk, who moved around Lakers Gaming lineup during the 2020 season searching for the right role. Now Lakers Gaming’s expected opening night starting center in 2021, this is Tactuk’s first opportunity to prove he can hang with the best of them at his position.

When

Round One, December 19, 2020 (6:00 P.M. est.)

Thank you for taking the time to read. Follow me on Twitter: @aarontfox. Feedback, thoughts, etc. all appreciated.

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