Chicago Bulls’ Erik Murphy is expressed his intention of playing for Finland at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball this summer in Spain.
French-born Murphy owns dual U.S. and Finnish citizenship due to his mother, herself a former player hailing from the Nordic country. The NBA rookie wants to establish himself on the international circuit as he decided to skip Eurobasket last year in Slovenia in order to get a spot on Chicago’s final roster.
“I want to go there and try to fit in with the team and do whatever I can to help the team win games and compete,” Murphy said.
“I don’t know what my role will be or what they expect of me. But playing for your country is always something special.”
It was in fact the power forward’s mother that gave him the idea to play for the national side, who prepare for their first FIBA World Cup this summer in Spain. The ‘Wolfpack’ will be based in Bilbao where they square-off against favourites USA, New Zealand, Ukraine, Dominican Republic and Turkey.
“We talked about it when [the boys] were younger,” explained Erik’s mother Paivi. “My husband played in Europe. Erik was born in France, but he has passports from the U.S. and Finland [because of her citizenship]. Not France.”
They are conversations that Erik remembers very well.
“When I was a young kid, my mom planted the idea [of playing for Finland],” said Murphy. “I never thought I would. I’d say, ‘Yeah.’ But it is something I always wanted to do. My brother (Alex) played on the junior national team.”
Finland sealed their place at the World Cup as one of the four wildcard teams. They made it to the second round of Eurobasket in Slovenia, but thoroughly deserved their spot in FIBA’s flagship tournament, which starts August 30.
“The [Finland] basketball program has shown a lot of improvement there,” Murphy said. “They want to show they belong in the upper echelon of teams. They’ve had some big wins, like over Turkey.”