Saturday, July 26, 2014

List of NBA Players suiting up for International teams at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, #Spain2014

I was enlightened on the distinction between Basketball and NBA fans entering into my first FIBA International Basketball event. On my flight into Lithuania for EuroBasket 2011, I befriended the Manager of the English Basketball Men's Team. He spoke of his love for the game but didn't rate the NBA style. He likened it to WWE Wrestling, all glitz and glamour. To which I responded, "I love Wrestling". Though I doubt he meant it, the Wrestling analogy offers another layer. Hardcore fans tend to support all types of Wrestling, they have an awareness of the International scene and support their local and Indy Feds. On the other hand some fans only know the WWE Universe. This means stars from elsewhere who are entering the WWE often need to reestablish their credibility to this new audience. They're essentially starting from scratch despite any notoriety gained in other Federations or in Developmental. I imagine this plight is not too dissimilar for accomplished Ballers in the International scene, the NBA is simply on another level as far as exposure goes.

VIDEO: See you in #Spain2014

For many fans, all Basketball is viewed through the prism of the NBA. Growing up with the flash of its Superstars, highlights and shoe endorsements, I assumed that's how everyone came to love the game. Being at EuroBasket surrounded by passionate hoops fans and the International game, I realised there were aficionados who were interested in aspects of the game like Ball movement and Team execution who might have preferred the technical International style of play. Something the 2014 NBA Finals might have educated audiences to as the chemistry of the San Antonio Spurs triumphed over the star wattage of the Miami Heat. The Champion Spurs fielded 9 International players from 7 different Countries.  

#Spain2014 FIBA World Cup Group Draw
Here in Sydney I've heard many people being dismissive of our local League, the NBL. Having watched a few International Leagues in Turkey, the Baltics and EuroLeague our game stacks up well. By its nature every League is inferior to the NBA, in talent, money and production therefore value should be placed more on how well the League fosters the product and the fanbase. When people critique the NBL I feel it more likely reflects an allegiance to the NBA Product. Those same critics are also just as unlikely to consume EuroLeague, WNBA or the D-League.

The dominance and celebrity of TeamUSA has meant a lot of these International Tournaments are simply a showcase for the North Americans. It's not a matter of if they'll win but by how many points. In the last International Final at the 2012 London Olympics, Spain put in a spirited effort only losing by 7 points to a Superstar-laden team. For this Basketball World Cup, hosts España will have Homecourt advantage whilst TeamUSA look vulnerable with last minute roster changes and a squad largely inexperienced in International play.

It's worth noting the omission of Canada from the Tournament. They had a strong initial showing at FIBA Americas, even besting eventual Champions Mexico in the First Round. They faded in the later stages eventually placing 6th in the 10 Team competition. Had they fielded their NBA Players for the World Cup, Team Canada would have showcased 3 recent Cleveland Cavaliers' draftees including this year's No.1 pick Andrew Wiggins. The team would have also been led by recent NBA Champion, PG Cory Joseph. Canada would have been a fun team to watch. Several European teams are notably absent also, Powerhouse Russia alongside Italy and Germany. I feel FIBA Americas host Venezuela were an unfair omission after their Spirited 4th Place Finish. Considering Brazil were winless in the Tournament, Canada and Venezuela could have deservingly taken their place.

Below is a progress list of Current and recent NBA Players who'll be representing their Nation for the FIBA World Cup in Spain. I've denoted the players who won't be in uniform in Red.

2013 FIBA Africa Champion: Angola
Angola def. Egypt (57-40)
#15 Angola, Group D
n/a

#3 Argentina, Group B (4 of 5)
F Luis Scola, IND
F Carlos Delfino, MIL
G Pablo Prigioni, NYK
F Andrés Nocioni, PHI (2012)
G Manu Ginobili, SAS

#9 Australia, Group D (6 of 8)
F Aron Baynes, SAS
G Matthew Dellavedova, CLE
G Dante Exum, UTA
C David Andersen NOH (2011)
F Cameron Bairstow, CHI
C Nathan Jawai, MIN (2010)
C Andrew Bogut, GSW
G Patrick Mills, SAS

#10 Brazil, Group A (4 of 5)
G Leandro Barbosa, PHX
C Nenê Hilario, WAS
C Tiago Splitter, SAS
C Anderson Varejao, CLE
F Vítor Faverani, BOS

#16 Croatia, Group B
C Bojan Bogdanović, BKN
F Damjan Rudez, IND

#26 Dominican Republic, Group C
F Francisco Garcia, HOU
F Charlie Villanueva, DET
C Al Horford, DET

#46 Egypt, Group A
n/a

#39 Finland, Group C
F Erik Murphy, CLE

EuroBasket 2013 Champion: France
France def. Lithuania in the Final (80-66)
#8 France, Group A (5 of 13)
F Nicolas Batum, POR
F Boris Diaw, SAS
G Evan Fournier, DEN
C Rudy Gobert, UTA
C Ian Mahinmi, IND
G Nando De Colo
C Joakim Noah, CHI
G Tony Parker, SAS
F Kevin Séraphin, WAS
C Ronny Turiaf, MIN
F Mickaël Piétrus, TOR (2013)
G Rodrigue Beaubois, DAL (2013)
C Alexis Ajinça, NOL

#5 Greece, Group B (2 of 3)
G Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
G Nick Calathes, Mem
C Kosta Koufos, MEM

2013 FIBA Asia Champion: Iran
Iran def. Philippines in the Final (85-71)
#20 Iran Group A
C Hamed Haddadi, PHX (2013)

#31 Korea, Group D
n/a

#4 Lithuania, Group D (2 of 3)
F Donatas Motiejūnas, HOU
C Jonas Valančiūnas, TOR
F Linas Kleiza, TOR (2013)

FIBA Americas Champion 2013: Mexico
Mexico def. Puerto Rico in the Final (91-89)
#24 Mexico, Group D (2 of 2)
C Gustavo Ayon, ATL
G Jorge Gutierrez, BKN

#19 New Zealand, Group C
C Steven Adams, OKC

#34 Philippines, Group B
C Andray Blatche, BKN

#17 Puerto Rico, Group B (1 of 3)
G José Juan Barea, MIN
G Carlos Arroyo, BOS (2011)
F Renaldo Balkman, NYK (2012)

#41 Senegal, Group B (1 of 2)
F Gorgui Dieng, MIN
C DeSagana Diop, CHA (2013)

#11 Serbia, Group A 
C Nenad Krstić, BOS (2011)
C Miroslav Raduljica, MIL

#13 Slovenia, Group D (1 of 2)
G Goran Dragić, PHX
G Beno Udrih, MEM

#2 Spain, Group A (6 of 6)
F Rudy Fernández, DEN (2012)
G José Calderón, NYK
C Marc Gasol, MEM
C Pau Gasol, CHI
C Serge Ibaka, OKC
G Ricky Rubio, MIN
F Victor Claver, POR

#7 Turkey, Group C (3 of 3)
C Ömer Aşık, NOL
F Enes Kanter, UTA
F Ersan İlyasova, MIL

#45 Ukraine, Group C
C Viacheslav Kravtsov, PHX
C Alex Len, PHX

#1 USA, Group C (Team to be decided)
C DeMarcus Cousins, SAC
G Stephen Curry, GSW
C Anthony Davis, NOL
G DeMar DeRozan, TOR
C Andre Drummond, DET
F Kenneth Faried, DEN
G James Harden, HOU
G Kyrie Irving, CLE
G Derrick Rose, CHI
G Klay Thompson, GSW
F Rudy Gay, SAC
G John Wall, WAS
G Bradley Beal, WAS
G Paul George, IND
F Paul Millsap, ATL

F Kevin Durant, OKC
G Kyle Korver, ATL
G Damian Lillard, POR
F Chandler Parsons, DAL
F Gordon Hayward, UTA


I've tipped the field for the FIBA World Cup. Hosts Spain have a good chance of knocking out TeamUSA but if they plan to it'll need to be in the Final game. Lithuania and Mexico will threaten the North Americans in the second stage, incidentally both teams are my Darkhorse favorites to win it. USA face little resistance in their own Group with Dominican Republic and Turkey being the best of the bunch.

The FIBA World Cup begins August 30 culminating in the Final, September 14th.
Download the full schedule PDF from the FIBA website here

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