Six TBT'ers take the world stage at FIBA Qualifiers


By: Josh Brown | @josh_brown31

From Canada to Brazil, TBT'ers put in work at World Cup Qualifications

Whether it's figuring out roster spots or trying to outright qualify for the event, the pressure is starting to mount with the FIBA World Cup now under 300 days away. The second round of qualification continued this past week, with games taking place across Africa, North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Much like September, a half-dozen TBT 2018 players represented four different countries around the world. Let's check in and see how they fared!

Ivan Aska, Team Challenge ALS, US Virgin Islands

Although it was a rough week for the Virgin Islands, Aska cemented himself as a dominant force on the world stage. The Team Challenge ALS star poured in 22 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in the team's 81-63 setback to Chile last Friday. He followed it up a few days later with a 14-point, 8-rebound performance in a heartbreaking 77-76 loss to Venezuela. Although qualification for the World Cup seems to be out of the picture this time around, expect to see a lot more of Aska as USVI continues to build for the future. When he's not balling for the national team, Aska suits up alongside Matadors swingman Quincy Diggs and West Virginia Wildcats guard Stevie Browning for Kolossos Rodou in Greece. 


Johnathan Gray & LaRon Smith, Tampa 20/20, US Virgin Islands

The Tampa 20/20 teammates have quickly become mainstays for the USVI. In the team's matchup against Chile, the duo combined to pull down 8 rebounds in a combined 35 minutes of work. Smith, who is a world-renowned rim protector, swatted away 6 shots over the course of two games. 


Scott Machado, Gael Nation, Brazil

When he's not throwing up insane alley-oops (check out the video below), the Gael Nation star is getting buckets. Although Brazil followed up a 100-82 win over the Dominican Republic with a loss to Canada, Machado finished with an impressive stat line of 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists. It has been a notable couple weeks for Machado, who scored 15 points against the Sacramento Kings in a preseason game, signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, and is currently averaging 15.9 ppg and 6.8 apg for the G-League's South Bay Lakers. In order to qualify for the World Cup, Brazil needs a win against either the Dominican Republic or US Virgin Islands in February.


Akil Mitchell, Louisiana United, Panama

Anyone who watched TBT 2018 surely walked away impressed with Akil Mitchell. In Louisiana United's run to the Super 16, the University of Virginia alum averaged 16 ppg and 10 rpg. His best contest came in the team's opening round win over ATL AllStars, where he dropped 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Mitchell had a productive week for Panama. He had 4 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in the team's 76-65 victory over Mexico, and followed it up with a 9-point, 6-rebound, 2-assist outing against Puerto Rico.


Dyshawn Pierre, Broad Street Brawlers, Canada

 Even though a 1-1 week dropped them to second place in Group F, our neighbors up north are 8-2 in qualification play and have already secured a spot in the World Cup. Understandably, Pierre did not have a huge role this week after traveling to South America from Italy. With that being said, he made an impact in Canada's win over Chile in September, finishing with a +9 in 10 minutes of work. In the Broad Street Brawlers' lone game last summer, Pierre had 6 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.


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