Hola! Bonjour! Здравствуйте! Sveiki! Do you know what time it is? It’s basketball in the summer time! And not just summer league basketball but real, professional, people-actually-care FIBA EuroBasket time!
That’s right, while you were sitting there wondering how to get to the beach a few more times, all of Europe has been a-twitter with the approach of EuroBasket 2017. (Not, mind you, EuroCasket, which I have accidentally written 34 times already.) What is EuroBasket? you may ask. Luckily, I have answers! (Warning: actual information below. Please feel free to scroll to the pictures.)
EuroBasket is one of three big national team basketball competitions on the other side of the Atlantic. (The other two being the FIBA World Cup and the Olympics, both of which are obviously global while EuroBasket is just Europe. And Israel. But you know what I mean.) EuroBasket and the Basketball World Cup have decided to stagger themselves, so now there will be one every two years - EuroBasket this year and World Cup in 2019. (And Olympics in 2020.) EuroBasket is also a prime scouting ground for up-and-coming international players, as well as an opportunity to see our EuroKnicks in the off-season play against each other.
This year’s competition will be held August 31 - September 17th in cities across Romania, Finland, Turkey and Israel. Why those four countries and what do they have to do with each other? I have no fucking clue, but I do know that they have taken the trophy on a glorious tour of major European landmarks! I cannot recommend the photo gallery enough, as it appears that they have sent a team to plonk the cup down in every city in every nation—from rich Geneva to the Finland Station—and take a picture of it. That’s it. Oh wait, no, that isn’t it. There’s also a mascot named Sam Dunk. He is a small boy “who loves basketball and dreams of being a great basketball player/superstar. In his imagination he has created an alter ego for himself, a superhero who has rocket boots and so, despite his diminutive size, can compete with the basketball giants on equal terms.”
This is him:
God I love Europeans and their Euro-ness.
So on to our Knicks! Many current, former, and possible future ‘Bockers will be playing for their home countries because we are a melting pot and a glorious mosaic of hoops.
Shortly after the end of the season and skipping his exit interview, Kristaps Porzingis announced that he would be playing for Team Latvia (FIBA rank: 35). Woo! Passive aggressive patriotism! I like his style. KP has been posting many Team Latvia pics, showing off his new muscles and haircut.
(Translation: We meet on Friday in the arena against Poland!)
Is there atmospheric video? Yes, yes there is:
Is there seizure-inducing practice video? Yes again!
And then there are some behind-the-scenes IG Live shots:
Fellow Eastern EuroKnick Mindaugas Kuzminskas is likewise repping his national team. Team Lithuania (FIBA rank: 5) looks pretty swanky!
No surprise Kuz is smiling big time to be back on the court:
Hopefully he wins big:
Willy Hernangomez has ended his summer of beaches to join Team Spain (FIBA rank: 2), the current champions. The reign of Spain should continue, as in addition to the mighty brothers Hernangomez there are also some losers named Gasol, as well as assorted Rubios and Diops.
A deeply tan Willy appears to be getting he hair cut by KP’s barber, which is kind of a mistake imo. There are those new tattoos!
Our boy also gifted us with a lovely promo shot which shows him either very happy or very pained, but also with what looks like some good lower body bulking up:
But enough of that not-beach life. Team Spain (or at least some of it) is off to Tenerife!
Two other EuroKnicks are technically available for their national teams but are not playing—both Ognan Jaramaz and Frank Nkilitina appear to be skipping this year’s contest.
But wait! There’s more!
Although Frankie Teardrop is sitting out, tangental-Knick Louis Labeyrie is in action for Team France (FIBA rank: 4), as is former-Knick Kevin Séraphin. If you round out with former France star Joakim Noah, Team France might as well be known as Les Knicks d’Europe.
Other former Knicks in action include much-missed Westchester Knicks superstar Thanasis Antetokounmpo, joining his brother on Team Greece (FIBA rank: 13), and Mozgov-strong Timofey Mozgov, representing Team Russia (FIBA rank: 9). International man of mystery Alexey Shved does not appear to be playing for the Motherland.
Lastly, cosmopolitan bon vivante and lifestyle guru Sasha Vujacic is (again) not playing for Slovenia, but worry not - the Machine is still living well:
No sign of Beno Udrih. Should he really have passed on this tournament...or passed to J.R. Smith that one time? You really gotta look at that. #BlameBeno4Ever