Jantunen Looks to Help Finland Advance in FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifier
PALO ALTO, Calif. – Utah men's basketball sophomore forward Mikael Jantunen will miss the next few games as he heads back to Europe to join the Finnish National Team in its do-or-die game against Switzerland to advance in the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifier.
"We wish Mikael and the Finnish National Team all the best as they take care of business over at the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifier," Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "We look forward to him joining us down the home stretch of the season and compete in the Pac-12 Tournament."
Jantunen, whose national team sits at 1-3 in the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers, requested the services of the Helsinki native as it faces an elimination game against Switzerland in hopes of advancing with the rest of Group E (Georgia and Serbia). The Finns and Swiss are set to square off on Friday, Feb. 19, at 3 a.m. (MT) / 4 p.m. (GMT +4), in Tbilisi, Georgia, at the Sports Palace. It will then face off against Georgia on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 6 a.m. (MT) / 7 p.m. (GMT +4).
"It wasn't an easy decision and I never want to miss any games," Jantunen said. "At the same time, I'm going to play for my country and when they called saying they needed me, I felt like I had to go and I want to go help us qualify for the tournament. I've been playing with the national team since I was a teenager and it's been a dream of mine to play for the senior national team and represent my country."
Finland's lone win so far in Group E qualifying has been against the Swiss, a 69-64 affair back on Feb. 23, 2020, after dropping its opening game against Serbia, 80-58. Finland lost to Group E host Georgia, 91-85, back in November before again falling to the Serbians 75-66 – which sets up this elimination game against Switzerland.
The 6-8 forward currently leads the Pac-12 in shooting-percentage, checking in with a blistering .646 shooting clip to go with his 4.1 rebounds per game. Through 15 games this season, Jantunen has averaged 8.5 points for the Utes and 12.2 points per 40 minutes. When looking at just Pac-12 games, Jantunen is shooting 67.7-percent to go with an 88.2-percent clip from the line.
Utah is set to take on Stanford Saturday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. (MT) inside Maples Pavilion in the second game of its four-game road swing. The Utes have won three-straight contests as well as four of their last five – including a trio of road games.