The FIBA Americas Championship got under way on Aug. 30, and there are many familiar names that populate the national team rosters in this competition as well as the FIBA Europe, which begins Sept. 4.
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 Aug. 30, in Venezuela, and Eurobasket, which starts Sept. 4, in Slovenia.
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 Ukrain;Brooklyn Nets assistant coach Joe Prunty coaches Great Britain, and Milwaukee Bucks advanced scout Chris Gilmartin is a scout for Great Britain; former Charlotte Bobcats coach Sam Vincent is coaching Jamaica; NBA referee Anthony Jordan and WNBA referee Lauren Holtkamp will officiate FIBA Americas Championship games.
The U.S. does not have to play in the FIBA Americas Championship because it qualified automatically for the World Cup by winning gold at the 2012 London Olympics.
The top four teams in the FIBA Americas and the top six teams in FIBA Europe qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Puerto Rico, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and the Dominican Republic are the favorites to come out of the FIBA Americas. Jamaica and Venezuela could also be in the mix.
Spain, France, Russia, Lithuania and Slovenia are the favorites to advance out of the FIBA Europe. Croatia, Greece, Germany and F.Y.R Macedonia are also in the mix.