Nebraska MBB: FIBA Basketball World Cup Begins Saturday
Lincoln - A pair of players with Nebraska ties are in action in the FIBA Basketball World Cup beginning Saturday morning in Spain. Husker sophomore Tai Webster (New Zealand) and former Husker Jorge Brian Diaz (Puerto Rico) will represent their nations in the 24-team tournament which runs until Sept. 14.
All of the tournament games will be available on the WatchESPN app, while other preliminary round games will be features on the ESPN family of networks. New Zealand’s game against the United States on Tuesday will be on ESPN2 at 10:30 a.m., while Puerto Rico’s games against Argentina (Aug. 30, 10:30 a.m.) and Croatia (Sept. 4, 10:30 a.m.) will be on ESPN Deportes. A complete schedule is listed below.
Webster, who has been the starting point guard for New Zealand during the second half of their tournament preparations, comes off his best effort in the win over Serbia earlier this week. Webster had 21 points, four rebounds and a pair of assists in the 102-96 win.
As a freshman, Webster started 30 games for the Huskers in 2013-14, helping Nebraska make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. He averaged 3.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He topped the Huskers with 63 assists and scored in double figures four times as a true freshman.
Diaz, who is making his debut with the Puerto Rican National Basketball Team, played at Nebraska from 2009 until 2012 and totaled 765 points, 342 rebounds and 110 blocked shots during his career. His 110 blocked shots ranks ninth on Nebraska’s career chart, including 41 blocked shots as a redshirt freshman in 2009-10. His best year came in 2010-11, when he averaged 10.5 points per game on 54 percent shooting and 3.3 rebounds per game to help the Huskers win 19 games and earn an NIT bid. He was limited to just 16 games in his final year at Nebraska because of foot injuries, averaging 8.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game.
Diaz currently plays professionally for the Quebradillas Pirates in his native Puerto Rico, where he averaged 8.0 points on 57 percent shooting and 3.5 rebounds per game during the 2014 season which completed last month.
Prior to this year, only one Husker (Bill Johnson in 1954) had played in the FIBA World Cup, which until 2010 was known as the FIBA World Championships. It is the second straight major competition where at least two Huskers have played, as Aleks Maric (Australia) and Ade Dagunduro (Nigeria) both played in the 2012 London Olympics.
FIBA World Cup Schedule Date Opponent Time Online TV Saturday, Aug. 30 New Zealand vs. Turkey 9 a.m. WatchESPN - Saturday, Aug. 30 Puerto Rico vs. Argentina 10:30 a.m. WatchESPN ESPN Deportes Sunday, Aug. 31 New Zealand vs. Dominican Republic 5:30 a.m. WatchESPN - Sunday, Aug. 31 Puerto Rico vs. Senegal 10:30 a.m. WatchESPN - Monday, Sept. 1 Puerto Rico vs. Greece 1 p.m. WatchESPN - Tuesday, Sept. 2 New Zealand vs. United States 10:30 a.m. WatchESPN ESPN2 Wednesday, Sept. 3 New Zealand vs. Ukraine 8 a.m. WatchESPN - Wednesday, Sept. 3 Puerto Rico vs.Philippines 6:30 a.m. WatchESPN - Thursday, Sept. 4 Puerto Rico vs. Croatia 10:30 a.m. WatchESPN ESPN Deportes Thursday, Sept. 4 New Zealand vs. Finland 8 a.m. WatchESPN - Sat.-Sun., Sept. 6-7 Round of 16 TBA WatchESPN - Tues.-Wed., Sept. 9-10 Quarterfinals TBA WatchESPN ESPN or ESPN2 Thurs.-Fri., Sept. 11-12 Semifinals TBA WatchESPN ESPN or ESPN2 Saturday, Sept. 13 Third-place game 11 a.m. WatchESPN ESPN2 Sunday, Sept. 14 Championship 2 p.m. WatchESPN ESPN2 All times listed are central