Globe Guide 2017: Where You Can Catch Jazz Players — OK, Player — in FIBA Competition

August 17th, 2017 | by Dan Clayton

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As we like to do around these parts to survive the dog days of summer, let’s talk FIBA1.

Usually the very international Jazz have a lot of basketball to follow as national teams go to work during the NBA offseason. And we tend to following along — here are the posts from 2014, 2015 and  2016 — where we keep track of who’s doing what.

This year, that’s easier work. As of right now, only one Jazz player looks to have FIBA action on tap. Below is an update on a guy who’s already 56 minutes into his nation’s exhibition schedule, along with what we know about the squads of other Jazz personnel.

Spain goes dynasty-hunting

Spain has been a global basketball powerhouse since the 1990s, and they’ve accounted for three of the last four EuroBasket titles. They’re currently ranked 2nd in the FIBA World Rankings, and they’re favorites to once again rule the continent from a basketball standpoint.

Luckily for Jazz fans, this means they’ll have plenty of opportunities this summer to see new Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio in action. Rubio is a starter and key player for Spain, and could appear in as many as 16 games for his country this summer.

Spain has already started its preparatory schedule, and they have several more games over the course of August before heading to Romania and eventually Turkey2 in pursuit of a fourth continental crown.

  • Rubio sat out the first two “amistosos3,” a pair of July wins over Israel.
  • He first appeared on August 8, drawing light duty in a 71-45 win against Tunisia: 4 points, a rebound and 6 assists in 16:18. None of Spain’s starters cracked 20 minutes in the lopsided victory.
  • He played even less as Spain lost an August 9 friendly to Belgium, 89-71. Rubio had 10-1-4 in 14 minutes.
  • On August 15, Spain doubled up Venezuela, 90-44. Rubio had 7-5-5 in 22 minutes.
  • August 18: will host Senegal in Melilla. Update: Rubio had 14-1-3 in 23 minutes as Spain won, 80-69.
  • August 20: will host Venezeula in Malaga. Update: Rubio had 3-1-7 in 20 minutes of a 90-62 Spain victory.
  • August 23: will play Belgium in Brussels. Update: Rubio had 6-4-3 in 20 minutes as Spain won, 88-72.
  • August 25: will play Lithuania in Vilnius. Update: Rubio struggled with his shot but finished with 7-3-5 in 29 minutes of Spain’s narrow 79-78 win.

In all, Rubio appeared in seven exhibition games, averaging 7.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists in just over 20 minutes per game.

Then it’s on to the main even for the reigning EuroBasket champs. They’ll play their group phase in Romania.

  • September 1 vs. Montenegro: Rubio made just two buckets (2/5, 1/3 from deep), but finished with 7-2-7 and 5 steals in 20 minutes. Spain by 39.
  • September 2 vs. Czech Republic: Rubio had his best scoring game so far, 17 points (5/8 shooting, 2/4 from deep) along with 2 rebounds, 5 assists in 20 minutes. Spain by 37.
  • September 4 vs. Romania: Rubio had 8-1-3 on 3/3 shooting in 13 minutes of a 91-50 win over the hosts.
  • September 5 vs. Croatia: Rubio had 13-3-4 and 4 steals in Spain’s toughest test yet, a 79-73 win that was a one-point game until two late Rubio FTs followed by a big defensive board. He played 27 minutes.
  • September 7 vs. Hungary: Another rough shooting day (2/7), but Rubio finished with 6-5-4 in 23 minutes of an 87-64 win.

In all, Rubio averaged 10.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 20.6 minutes while helping Spain to a perfect 5-0 in group play. 

Spain now advances to the bracket phase:

  • Round of 16: September 10 vs. Turkey… Rubio had 15-2-3 in 21 minutes as Spain eliminated the hosts with a 73-56 victory.
  • Quarterfinals: September 12 vs. Germany… Easily Rubio’s worst game of the tourney. He shot 1/8 on his way to a 2-4-8 line, but Spain still won, 82-74.
  • Semifinals: September 14 vs. Slovenia… Rubio had 13-2-3 with three steals in 31 minutes, but Spain suffered an upset loss, 92-72. Now, Spain will compete for consolation in Sunday’s bronze medal game.
  • Bronze medal game): September 17

For now, Rubio appears to be the only Utah player slated to play for his home country. Here’s a report on some other Jazz-bearing nations’ summer ball.

France’s stars to sit

All-NBA center Rudy Gobert opted not to join France at EuroBasket this year. No official word on why, although it’s worth noting that there’s not a ton riding on this particular tourney. Often, the continental competition doubles as a qualifying round for bigger stages like the FIBA Basketball World Cup or the Olympics. But those two don’t occur until 2019 and 2020, respectively, and therefore will have their own qualifying rounds. As a result, this EuroBasket is just about figuring out who wins EuroBasket.

Whether for that reason or because of rehabilitation and preparation issues, some of France’s NBA stars will sit out next month’s competition. The 2013 EuroBasket champs will be without Gobert, Nic Batum and Tony Parker.

Former Jazzman Boris Diaw is playing with Les Bleus, though. He’s the captain and a starter for the French national team, which has started an 8-game slate of preparatory matches before they tip off their EuroBasket tourney by facing the hosting Fins in Helsinki on August 31. For those who want to track Diaw’s summer, the French schedule and links to stats can be found here.

Aussies to take on Asia

This is Team Australia’s first summer as part of the field for the revamped FIBA Asia Cup. Instead of having Australia and New Zealand form just a two-team Oceania bracket, those squads will now compete as part of a pan-Asian Pacific zone. Because of their top-20 world rankings, both Australia (10th) and New Zealand (20th) were seeded atop their respective groups for their inaugural Asia Cup appearances.

So far, the Boomers have advanced to the quarterfinals following three lopsided victories, but they’re doing it without most of their NBA-level guys. Three-year Jazz veterans Dante Exum and Joe Ingles are both sitting out this summer’s FIBA play.

Brazil in flux

It’s hard to find information about Brazil’s roster plans for the 2017 AmeriCup tournament. The Brazilian Basketball Federation was suspended by FIBA last year, so any FIBA page that talks to their involvement in the tourney have minimal info and all carry the disclaimer that their participation is contingent upon a conditional lifting of sanctions.

That said, Brazil is scheduled for games in the upcoming AmeriCup. They’re scheduled to face Colombia, Mexico and Puerto Rico in the group phase starting on August 25. What’s less clear is who will be on the roster. Raul Neto was part of the Olympic roster last summer, but Brazil still hasn’t announced its roster for the tournament yet. Neto was in Brazil for a basketball camp earlier this summer, and took Gobert along for the ride.

The Brazilians were runners-up at the 2011 FIBA Americas, but has gone a disappointing 1-7 in 2013 and 2015. Brazil is ranked 7th in the FIBA World Rankings.

Update: Brazil indeed went to AmeriCup without Neto. They finished 1-2 in group play and did not advance to the bracket phase.

Take the summer off

Neither Sweden nor Switzerland qualified for Eurobasket, so new Jazz signees Jonas Jerebko and Thabo Sefolosha can spend the rest of their respective summers working toward the NBA season. Teams who didn’t finish in the top nine at the last EuroBasket and who aren’t hosts had to earn one of the remaining 11 slots at a qualifying tournament last summer. Switzerland finished 1-5 and Sweden finished 0-4. Neither Jerebko nor Sefolosha played in that qualifying tournament.

Ukraine did qualify, eking out a sixth seed (of six) after finishing second in their qualifying group last September. But it doesn’t appear likely that their trip to Tel Aviv will provide a chance to see Jazz big man Joel Bolomboy in action. The Ukranian-born Bolomboy still hasn’t appeared in a game with the national team to date.

Representing the Jazz from the sidelines

The court won’t be the only place to find Jazz personnel this FIBA season. Lead Utah assistant coach Igor Kokoskov is the head man on the Slovenian bench. Kokoskov is actually Serbian, but will lead the Slovenians into their 13th EuroBasket appearance. They’re a fourth seed, in the same group as France.

New SLC Stars head coach Martin Schiller is listed as an assistant on the German national team site, so expect to see him on the sidelines as Germany faces Russia, Poland and Serbia in group play later this month.

Dan Clayton

Dan Clayton

Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City, but contributes regularly to Salt City Hoops, FanRag and BBALLBreakdown.
Dan Clayton

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