The final four spots in this summer's FIBA World Cup were filled Saturday morning with FIBA announcing Brazil, Finland, Turkey and Greece would take the wild card spots.
Turkey and Greece are longtime European powers with Greece reaching the quarterfinals in the 2012 Olympics and Turkey reaching the finals of the 2010 Basketball World Championships. Finland earned a selection for their strong showing in Eurobasket last summer. That is a country on the rise in basketball circles. Brazil is deserving with their veteran group of players with ample amounts of international experience. Plus they are hosting the Olympics in two years.
For the teams that made it, it is very deserving. The teams that missed out -- like Canada, China, Germany and Italy -- there is bitter disappointment in failing to qualify and failing to earn this last-chance spot.
For young players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, the World Cup this summer is an opportunity to continue their growth and development. Greece is already a loaded roster but Antetokounmpo, if he makes the team, will have a golden opportunity to continue to the incredible improvements that have already begun this year.
"I've seen a lot of progress," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "He continues to learn. He continues to improve. We continue to allow him to play and, I've said it from the very beginning with Giannis, we're going to have to live with mistakes
"There are some nights where he is going to be overmatched. Some of those mistakes and times he is overmatched, we're going to have to live with. He'll continue to get better. He'll continue to gorw, continue to get stronger and continue to get more confident at playing at this level."
Antetokounmpo started 21 straight games before Friday night's loss to Orlando when Drew opted to match up with Orlando's three-guard lineup and bring Antetokounmpo off the bench. That plan did not work as the Magic got up by as much as 25 points and had a double digit deficit they would not give up for the rest of the game.