Report: Philippines wants to naturalize JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche before World Championships


Because the JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche pairing worked so well before in Washington….

The FIBA World Cup (what you used to call the World Championships) is coming to Spain this summer and the Philippines team will be there, having qualified as the No. 2 team in FIBA’s Asia tournament (behind Iran, surprisingly). The Philippines were led up front by 6’11” Marcus Douthit (who played at Providence, was drafted in the second round by the Lakers and spent a couple of years in the D-League).

Now the Philippines want to bring in the big guns of McGee and/or Blatche, reports Philstar, via Sportando.

Gilas Pilipinas has got an extra month of training period for the 2014 FIBA World Cup (the Philippines professional league shortened its season for the cause), and is now looking at NBA players JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche to be put in a pool of naturalized players for use in its long-term program…

Before June 30, Gilas is hoping Congress grants McGee and Blatche their naturalization papers….

“We’re in discussion with Javale. However, he’s just found out that he needs to undergo a procedure for his shin injury. With that development, it’s prudent also to choose a backup. Blatche agreed to undergo the naturalization process. He wants to play for the Philippines,” said Reyes.

This has the potential to be both a smart basketball move and a gold mine of unintentional comedy. I’m more pleased with the latter.

McGee has played in just five games for the Nuggets this season due to a stress fracture in his left tibia, and he’s not even back to running yet (just working on an elliptical machine). Blatche, on the other hand, is having a solid season for the Brooklyn Nets. While McGee has had tryouts with Team USA he’s never made the squad for a tournament (once you play for one nation in a major FIBA event you have to play for that nation the rest of your career).

If this goes through — and that’s still a big if — suddenly the Philippines team becomes a lot more interesting. Not a threat to the United States or Spain (the two title contenders) but a lot more interesting to watch.

The World Cup will take place Aug. 30 through Sept. 14 in Spain. The event is nearly as popular as the Olympics for basketball (at least outside the United States) and the winner of the event gets an automatic berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Which is why Team USA will be focused — lose this to Spain and in the summer of 2015 the USA has to assemble a team good enough to qualify for Rio, not take the summer off.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell with shot of night to force OT with Spurs


One of the factors to consider in the Rookie of the Year race: clutch plays.

Down three with less than 10 seconds to go Friday night, the Utah Jazz put the ball in the hands of their rookie playmaker Donovan Mitchell — and he made the play, draining a three to force overtime. It’s an impressive play.

In the clutch this season (last five minutes of a game, within five points), Mitchell has averaged 3.2 shots per contest (by far the most of any rookie) and has a true shooting percentage of 51 percent. Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, the other front-runner in the ROY race, averages less than a shot per game in those clutch situations (0.8) and has a true shooting percentage of 66.7 percent.

Mitchell made the big shot, but the Spurs made plenty too, had 45 points on the night from LaMarcus Aldridge, and got the win.


PBT Extra: Who is coming out of the Eastern Conference?

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The Toronto Raptors will finish with the No. 1 seed and all the best metrics in the East, but they have a history of playoff flameouts. The Boston Celtics’ have been hit hard by injuries. And the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James but also a dreadful defense, this is the most vulnerable a LeBron led team has been since he bolted Cleveland seven years ago.

So what team is coming out of the East?

We get into that in this latest PBT Extra. A poll on Twitter found most of you think the Cavaliers, but personally, I think the Raptors — who have been better defensively all season than the Cavs — may finally have their year.

LaMarcus Aldridge drops career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell‘s 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs’ 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah’s 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.

Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.

Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.

Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.

Derrick Favors added 22 points for Utah and Ricky Rubio had 20.

Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs.


Stephen Curry leaves game with knee injury


In his first night back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss six games, Stephen Curry limped off the court not to return after in third quarter Friday night after JaVale McGee fell into his knee.

He limped to the bench then eventually to the locker room after the injury.

The severity of the injury is not yet known and should become clear on Saturday after an MRI.

Curry scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before being forced to leave the game, and the Warriors held on to win the game.

Obviously, if Curry is out heading into the playoffs, that changes the dynamic in the West, where the Houston Rockets were already right on the heels of the Warriors.