The FIBA World Cup European qualifiers are underway, and a pair of Arizona point guards—one current, one former—are trying to lead their respective countries to next year’s World Cup.
Kerr Kriisa and Estonia opened the second round of qualifiers with a 104-83 loss to Luka Doncic-led Slovenia Thursday. Kriisa scored 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting in 25 minutes along with five assists and four turnovers. Not unexpectedly, all of Kriisa’s shot attempts were 3-pointers.
During the game, Kriisa got a little chippy with Doncic, the three-time NBA All-Star for the Dallas Mavericks. A bit of their exchange can be seen in this clip.
After the game, Kriisa told reporters, “We don’t let people just step on us. Otherwise we could have just stayed in Estonia and not even come here. If somebody says something to us, we talk back. He showed a reaction so it means it’s pretty easy to get into his head too.”
"We don’t let people just step on us. Otherwise we could have just stayed in Estonia and not even come here. If somebody says something to us, we talk back," Kerr Kriisa when asked about Luka Doncic. "He showed a reaction so it means it's pretty easy to get into his head too." pic.twitter.com/ueL8O4LlQz— David Hein (@heinnews) August 25, 2022
Never change, Kerr.
Estonia sits at the bottom of Group J with a 2-5 record.
Nico Mannion and Italy are faring better, having gone 4-1 in qualifiers thus far including a 97-89 win over Ukraine Wednesday.
Mannion, rocking a buzz cut, scored 11 points on 2-of-7 shooting (7-7 on free throws) along with nine assists, four rebounds, two steals and two turnovers.
Italy sits at second in Group L. Italy’s next game is Saturday against Georgia, while Estonia next plays Sunday against Finland.
Both Kriisa and Mannion made EuroBasket’s Top 10 prospects.
Italy and Estonia are scheduled to play one another in the EuroBasketball 2022 tournament on Sept. 2. Both countries are in Group C. It’s unclear whether Kriisa will be a part of Estonia’s roster for that event.
For now, let’s enjoy this graphic.