Last summer, while NBA big men were dropping like flies, Wizards center JaVale McGee came close to being part of the Team USA squad that won gold at the FIBA World Championships. But he didn’t make the cut, Tyson Chandler did.
However, if McGee were on the Philippines national team, he would be the best player — by a long shot — and make them more of a threat in a relatively weak reagion. That is one basketball crazy in that country (remember the exhibition tour this summer) so for him to play for the national would make him a big star in the Asian market.
If everything falls into place, Smart Gilas Pilipinas will have the Washington Wizards’ seven-foot center JaVale McGee as naturalized player for the next FIBA Asia championship.
McGee had been in the country twice in the last four months and, in his last visit, expressed willingness to be part of the Philippine team vying for a slot in the 2014 World Championship.
The Philippines team recently came in fourth at the Asia Championships and Olympic qualifying tournament, behind China (the winner), Jordan and Korea. That did not get them a berth in the Olympics. Part of their challenge was matching up with the size of other teams, guys like Yi Jianglian of China.
McGee doesn’t bring a reliable midrange game or the basketball IQ that tends to thrive in international ball. But what he does bring is more size and athleticism than anyone he will face in those tournaments, so he could have big games in the paint. They just better not expect it every game from him. Just ask the Wizards.