The last week was a tough one for fans of both international basketball and the New York Knicks. RJ Barrett was masterful during his qualifying tournament, but his Canadians were sent packing by the Czech Republic. Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin scrimmaged with the USA Select Team, but IQ came down with a case of COVID.
But the Olympics stops for no man — or pandemic, apparently — and the Knicks still have two players headed to Tokyo: rookie Luca Vildoza and wily vet Frank Ntilikina.
Let us start with the Argentine. Knicks fans who stayed up past midnight got their first live glimpse of Vildoza Saturday night in a tune-up against the hated Australians. Australia would prevail on a late three by Patty Mills, but we’re here for the Luca highlights, aren’t we?
Honestly, it wasn’t the most impressive game: 11 points on 3-9 shooting, 2 assists, 2 rebounds. He was lackadaisical on D — as were many on the Argentine side — and he showed a tendency to put up some willlld shots. On a positive note, he has the balls to take half-court shots at the 2nd quarter buzzer. We might just have a new JR Smith on our hands.
Until he signs on the dotted line with another club this summer, Frank Ntilikina remains a Knick in our hearts, so we owe it to ourselves to celebrate his FIBA triumphs. France lost to their longtime basketball tormentors, Spain, this weekend. But Frank stood out for the losing side, with 13 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and his customary Frankian defense.
FIBA FRANKY IS BACK— Frank Ntilikina France (@FrNtilikina) July 11, 2021
HIGHLIGHTS VS SPAIN
BIG DEFENSE, BIG SHOTS, BIG GAME.https://t.co/HRllijriwe
I’m not sure about France, but Argentina has two more exhibitions, against Nigeria and one against P&T’s longtime enemy, the USA. (They left Julius Randle off the team for Kevin freakin’ Love!) We’ll keep y’all informed.