Tag: International Basketball

Kirilenko Tattoo

Kirilenko plans to play for Russia in European Championships


According to Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake City Tribune, Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko still plans to play for his country in the European Championships this summer.

Kirilenko is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he has had some injury problems in the past, but clearly playing for his country is something that is important to Kirilenko. And with a lockout looming, playing in high-level Euro competition may be the best way for Kirilenko to keep his skills sharp while the owners and players attempt to hammer out a new CBA agreement.

This is Rafael Arujao breaking a backboard

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Remember Rafael Arujao? #8 overall pick in 2004, averaged 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds on 40.5% shooting, completely washed out of the NBA without ever really making a rotation? It’s okay if you don’t. Anyways, he’s currently playing for Brazil in the FIBA Americas tournament, and he is destroying backboards. Courtesy of Deadspin, witness the power of Rafael Arujao’s destructive fury:

If that doesn’t put you in a good mood for the weekend, I don’t know what will.

Allen Iverson has no plans to retire

Allen Iverson
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Allen Iverson didn’t let the fact that no NBA team had much interest in signing him this season stop him from playing basketball. So it should come as no surprise that he’s not going to let his latest injury, a growth in his right leg that will have to be surgically removed, put a stop to his career either. Here’s the latest on the former 76ers star, courtesy of the Associated Press:

Allen Iverson says he expects to play basketball again once he has a lesion in his right leg examined in the United States.

Iverson posted on his Twitter page Friday that he was returning home for examinations, and possibly surgery. Iverson says he has no plans to retire.

Iverson signed with the Turkish team Besiktas after no NBA team expressed interest in the 11-time NBA All-Star

Gary Moore, Iverson’s longtime manager, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Iverson was expected to miss four to six weeks. Moore says Iverson was hoping to rejoin his Turkish team in time for the postseason.

It would have been nice to see a player with Iverson’s cult of personality, on-court resume, and influence on NBA culture get a proper farewell tour and be allowed to leave on his own terms, but things don’t always work out that way. Thanks to on-court issues in Detroit, family issues that Iverson had to attend to, and a number of other factors, Iverson wasn’t able to end his NBA career the way he wanted to, but he’s still doing everything he can to play the game he loves at the highest level possible. Furthermore, Iverson isn’t playing badly at all in Turkey: he’s currently averaging 14.3 points on 44.2% shooting for Beskitas, which at least make his chances of an NBA return better than those of Antoine Walker.

Antoine Wright may be heading to China

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Here’s the report, courtesy of NIUBBall.com:

A source told me this morning that Antoine Wright, who last played in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors last season, is working out a deal with an undisclosed CBA team.  Expect a lot of foreign player movement in the next few weeks as teams being to clear out disgruntled/underperforming players before the season gets too late.

Last year, Wright appeared in 67 games for the Raptors, averaging 6.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game on 40.6% shooting from the field. The 26-year old Wright was waived by the Kings on November 29th. After the Cavaliers decided to give their open roster spot to Alonzo Gee instead of Wright, going overseas is probably a good option for Wright at this point in his career.

Luis Scola is already making summer plans, intends to play for Argentina

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Thanks to their victory at this past summer’s FIBA World Championships, Team USA has an automatic bid for the 2012 Olympics. Other national teams still have plenty of work to do, as spots to compete in the Olympic pool must be earned through qualifying tournaments held all around the world.

That doesn’t mean we should expect too many surprises; qualifying tournaments typically go as planned. All of the FIBA powerhouses will undoubtedly be present in London, with a few teams boasting far superior squads than they did this summer. Injuries and other commitments kept a number of NBA players out of the World Championships, but health permitting, teams like France will be stronger than ever.

However, this year’s Olympic qualifiers have an odd wrinkle: the potential for an NBA lockout. Without career stability, NBA players may be less willing to risk injury, and though that won’t affect Team USA, members of other national teams could elect to stay home in an effort to protect their professional careers.

Not Luis Scola. According to the Associated Press, Scola has said that lockout be damned, he’ll be suiting up for Argentina in next summer’s qualifier:

Luis Scola says he wants to play for Argentina in next summer’s FIBA Americas championship even if there is a lockout. Scola, a starter on the Houston Rockets, says playing international tournaments is a great way to stay in shape, so he sees “no reason” not to and would get insurance and play — a risk many players might not take if the NBA is closed for business by a work stoppage.

Argentina is hosting the tournament, a qualifier for the 2012 Olympics. Its generation of stars such as Scola and Manu Ginobili, who led the country to Olympic gold in 2004 and bronze in 2008, was viewing the tournament as a chance to say goodbye to its home fans and earn one last trip to the Olympics. “I think we deserve it. We played there in 2001, it was the beginning of this whole thing that we have now and I think this could be a great chance to end it,” the Houston forward said before playing the Knicks.

There’s still a lot of time for players to decide their plans for next summer, but stories like these are something to keep an eye on for the qualifiers. Though the top teams usually win the day, a strong national squad devoid of their NBA centerpieces could conceivably fold and be forced to qualify through alternative means. That’s not the end of the world for non-qualifiers, but it does give them an interesting hiccup on their way to the Olympic games. Scola is doing what he can to make sure that Argentina isn’t put in that position, but I’m not sure how many other quality NBA players will do the same.