The 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship has seen one big after the next pull out and two of Europe’s top stars are facing a race against time as they hope to recover from major injuries in time to play in Greece.
Italy’s Federico Mussini and Stefan Lazarevic of Serbia were both selected to the All-Tournament Team at the 2014 U18 European Championship. But both players have serious question marks behind them as far as playing at the 2015 FIBA U19 Worlds from June 27-July 5.
Mussini suffered a torn ankle ligament on June 5 playing in the Italian Serie A playoffs for Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia. The starting shooting guard stepped on the foot of Jarrius Jackson from Umana Reyer Venezia and turned his ankle.
“I have a torn ligament but I hope to recover fast to be able to play,” Mussini told heinnews.
Mussini, who was ordered to rest for three weeks, said he is regularly receiving therapy and added: “I hope to play the U19 World Championship.”
Lazarevic, who captained Serbia to second place last summer at the U18 Euros, is dealing with a broken left arm, suffered on May 30 in a Croatian league game against of all teams Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade, who sent the guard to FMP on loan.
“I was running back on defense, went for the ball and when I was in the air, somebody tackled me and I felt my arm break when I hit the ground,” Lazarevic told heinnews.
“(The doctors) said that the recovery is going fine. I’m ready. It is just time. I cannot do anything about the arm – just pray.”
Lazarevic, who is not able to participate in the Serbian U19 national team training camp, is scheduled to visit the doctors later this week when he will most likely receive the final decision on whether his recovery is far enough to play at the U19 Worlds.
Losing two-fifths of the 2014 U18 European Championship All-Tournament Team (the others being Egemen Güven from Turkey, Vasileios Charalampopoulos and Dragan Bender) would be yet another big hit to the U19 World Championship,
Among those who have withdrawn from playing or not selected at the 2015 FIBA U19 Worlds are Ben Simmons, Isaac Humphries, Thon and Matur Maker, Harry Froling and Jonah Bolden from Australia; Canadians Jamal Murray and Montaque Gill-Caesar; and Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, Myles Turner, Stanley Johnson and Diamond Stone from the United States. Reports are also surfacing that Chinese big man Qi Zhou will play for the Chinese senior national team while Greek point guard Antonios Koniaris is out injured.