Three NBA players have announced their willingness to play for their respective national teams this summer at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain.
Indiana Pacers forward Luis Scola and New York Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni have put their names forward for the summer event in Spain, as Argentina prepare to travel to Seville and face Greece, Croatia, Senegal, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in Group B.
Both Scola and Prigioni have wonderful memories of the Liga Endesa and both look forward to going back to a country where they gained fame before heading to the NBA.
Both players spoke with Argentina coach Julio Lamas and signalled their intent quickly.
“Julio asked me if I was going to the World Cup and I told him yes, something that is obvious and normal because I am healthy and I played at the qualifiers [FIBA Americas championship],” Scola said.
“We didn’t talk about anything that is a secret or particular, simply about how we are going to do our preparations, how I’m doing different topics and stuff that we have a shared interest in.”
Scola added: “Spain is special for me because I spent 10 years there. It’s going to be beautiful. I hope that we are going to do well and be able to enjoy it.”
For Knicks guard Prigioni, he shares the same passion as the Pacers big man and is ready to represent his country one more time.
“I have been thinking about Spain all year,” Prigioni said.
“It’s hard not to think about the national team when there is such an important event coming up as the World Cup. Many of us played in Spain, so for a lot of us it will be a special tournament.
“It will also be difficult because each year is difficult to compete with the best teams of the world. We will try to have the best possible preparation and bring to the court the desire to compete and fight.”
Another player who has expressed his desire to play for Argentina this summer is former Chicago and Sacramento forward Andres Nocioni, now at Liga Endesa side Laboral Kutxa.
Veteran Nocioni spoke with coach Lamas at the Copa del Rey in Malaga earlier this year and told him that he wanted to play in Spain.
San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili has told Lamas that he will wait until the end of the NBA season to let him know of his summer plans.
Dieng fighting out of Senegal’s corner
Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng has declared himself available for African outsiders Senegal at the World Cup.
The NBA rookie has enjoyed a satisfactory start to his professional career. His career-high saw him post 22 points and 21 rebounds against the Houston Rockets, and the former NCAA national champion wants a chance to represent Senegal in Spain this summer.
“I’m very excited to go back and play for my national team, to play for my country,” Dieng told FIBA.com.
“I’m really excited about that. I spoke to the coach [Cheikh Sarr] today. He’s here in the States looking at the college kids and stuff.” One of these players may have been Adama “Louis” Adams, a South Carolina State senior point guard from Senegal’s Afrobasket team last summer.”
It will be a difficult task though for the African nation, as they face Argentina, Greece, Croatia, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in Group B. Dieng though will be focused on the task at hand, once his rookie season in Minnesota ends.
“I’m looking forward to going back and fight for my country,” Dieng said
“Whatever it takes. If they need me to score, I can score. If they need me to protect the rim, I can do. It’s not me to decide what I want to do. It’s how the coach wants to use me. I will do whatever the coach wants [me to do].”
Photo: USA Today