Kings make contributions in international play
The NBA preseason is a month away, but don’t fret – basketball without borders is in full swing. The 2015 FIBA Americas tournament (hosted in Mexico) and Eurobasket2015 tourney (played in France, Croatia, Germany and Latvia) concluded their sixth and second day respectively. The deep pool of talent participating in the two leagues includes several current and former Sacramento Kings who have chipped in for their national teams.
Omri Casspi (Israel)
Casspi’s newfound aggressiveness isn’t slowing down. The 27-year-old forward led his team with 21 points on 5-of-10 field goals, nine rebounds and 9-of-15 free throws in 38 minutes in a Saturday win over Russia. On Sunday Casspi logged 36 minutes and continued to dominate the boards, hauling in eight careens to go with 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting in a 13-point win over Finland.
Kosta Koufos (Greece)
Despite donning the same uniform as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nick Calathes and Kosta Papanikolaou, Koufos has outshined his NBA counterparts in two days of Eurobasket play. The 26-year-old center notched 11 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes in a Saturday blowout win, and followed up with a 11-point, nine-rebound (six offensive) effort in just 13 minutes in Sunday’s Croatia defeat.
Marco Belinelli (Italy)
Like Koufos, Belinelli shares a roster with NBA veterans like Andrea Bargnani and Danilo Gallinari. In two games the 29-year-old Kings off guard hasn’t shown his typical touch, totaling 26 points but shooting 6-for-21 from the floor in 66 minutes. Belinelli is 4-for-15 from downtown through the weekend but is a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe and compiled seven assists. The 6-foot-5 wing also collected eight rebounds on Sunday.
Nik Stauskas (Canada)
Canada’s star-studded lineup featuring Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Olynyk has had no problems filling the basket, and Stauskas has thrown his name in the mix as well. The Philadelphia 76ers wing is averaging 13.8 points in five games and stretching the floor for his comrades, creating an outside 1-2 punch with former Reno Bighorns guard Brady Heslip who hit seven 3-pointers on Sunday and is scoring 11.8 points a match.
Francisco Garcia (Dominican Republic)
The Cisco Kid is alive and well, albeit showing his age. The 33-year-old swingman and eight-year King has recorded 5.8 points on 25.7 percent shooting in roughly 26 minutes per game in five FIBA Americas tournament appearances. While Garcia’s offense has gone stale, his defense remains an asset for the Dominican Republic.
Andres Nocioni (Argentina)
Nocioni emerged from obscurity on Tuesday when Andrew Wiggins posterized the 35-year-old, but the former King has generated highlights of his own. Nocioni is averaging 14 points and 10.4 boards in five FIBA Americas matches.
Sergio Rodriguez (Spain)
The 2014 Euroleague MVP has come a long way since playing 39 games with the Kings during the 2009-10 season. Running alongside Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Rudy Fernandez, the 29-year-old point guard bounced back from a 1-for-7, two-assist, three-turnover Saturday showing by producing 14 points on 6-of-9 field goals and five assists to zero turnovers on Sunday.