Sep 3, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT
New Zealand hasn’t exactly had the most impressive performance at the 2014 FIBA World Cup — they picked up their first win of the event on Wednesday by beating Ukraine 73-61 — but they have been the team that college basketball fans have paid the most attention to.
Two of the five collegians that made a roster for the World Cup play for the Tall Blacks, and Hawaii star Isaac Fotu may be the best of the bunch right now. He averaged 14.9 points and 6.1 boards last season, and has put together a pretty impressive performance at the World Cup. In Wednesday’s win, he finished with 10 points and 10 boards.
His head coach at Hawaii, Gib Arnold, is in Bilbao, Spain, and has raved about Fotu’s play.
”He’s a perfect fit for Hawaii and we couldn’t ask for a better kid from New Zealand,” Arnold told Fairfax Media. ”He’s an absolute king of the island — they love him. He’s on all the billboards, all the posters, people wear his jerseys. We are a pretty big city, one of the biggest in America, with no pro team. So he’s the Kobe Bryant, the Kevin Durant of Hawaii.”
Arnold has to be ecstatic with that he’s seen thus far from Fotu, who thinks that this tournament will be a big step for him going forward.
”It’s been great for my game and I’ve learnt a lot just playing against older, more experienced guys,” he told Fairfax Media. ”It will be a good transition going back for my junior year, and I’m definitely going to be better for it.”
Tai Webster, a rising sophomore guard for Nebraska, finished with eight points, seven boards and three assists for the Kiwis while Kansas freshman Svi Mykhailiuk played just three minutes before getting pulled.
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