FIBA Americas, Eurobasket star NBA talent
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
Familiar names populate the national team rosters playing in the two major international events — FIBA Americas Championship and FIBA Eurobasket — this summer.
Start with defending Eurobasket champion Spain, with NBA players Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and Victor Claver. Continue with France and Tony Parker, Nic Batum and Boris Diaw. Marco Belinelli and Luigi Datome are playing for Italy, Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas for Lithuania, Alexey Shved for Russia, Goran Dragic for Slovenia, Luis Scola for Argentina, Tristan Thompson, Joel Anthony, Andrew Nicholson and Cory Joseph for Canada, J.J. Barea for Puerto Rico, and many more are on rosters.
But those aren’t the only NBA names helping national teams this summer. The next set of names might not be as recognizable but their contributions are important as countries try to qualify for next summer’s FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
At least 15 NBA assistant coaches, scouts, referees and former NBA coaches are working for national teams at the FIBA Americas, which began Friday in Venezuela, and Eurobasket, which starts Wednesday in Slovenia. The top four teams in Venezuela and the top six teams in Slovenia qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
“A lot of the NBA personnel feel they can learn from the international game, and I also think that at the same time, the international teams view the NBA as the best league in the world and they want to use some of the people who prepare and have to know all about getting ready for an 82-game season,” Canada national team coach and Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Jay Triano said.
Among the NBA personnel helping national teams this summer:
- Houston Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson is an assistant with Canada.
- Golden State Warriors advanced scout Chris Thomas is an assistant coach with Slovenia.
- Minnesota Timberwolves advanced scout Pat Zipfel is the Dominican Republic’s scout.
- Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Igor Kokoskov is Georgia’s coach, and Houston Rockets advanced scout Jason Staudt is a scout for Georgia.
- Former NBA coach Mike Fratello coaches Ukraine, and Boston Celtics advanced scout Jack Nolan is a scout for Ukraine.
- Brooklyn Nets assistant coach Joe Prunty coaches Great … [For more on FIBA Americas, Eurobasket star NBA talent off court, click here.]