2019 FIBA World Cup: Phoenix Suns Update

by Cody Cunningham

The FIBA Basketball World Cup officially tips-off in China on August 31st with multiple different countries featuring members of the Phoenix Suns. With players like Ricky Rubio headlining Spain and Aron Baynes manning the paint for Australia, the games should give Suns fans a preview of the newest players on the roster.

RICKY RUBIO – SPAIN

Ricky Rubio saw his first game action for Spain on Friday night as Team Spain tipped-off against Team USA in a tune-up game prior to the FIBA World Cup. The Suns newest point guard showed off his diverse skillset as he finished as his team’s second leading scorer with 16 points behind Toronto’s Marc Gasol. He also dished out seven assists and put in the work defensively with five steals. Rubio has been a staple for Team Spain since winning a silver medal with them during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Now back in China, Rubio has matured his game and looks to lead Spain to victory once again. 

ARON BAYNES – AUSTRALIA

After facing Rubio on Friday, Team USA’s next matchup with be against Aron Baynes and Team Australia on Thursday. Baynes joins Jonah Bolden, Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills as the six NBA players on Team Australia. The team has one of the deepest rosters in the FIBA tournament and is also one of the most experienced teams due to the consistency in returning players.

“It's pretty awesome,” Baynes told SportsNews.com “Now we're going to be able to carry that forward and putting in and mixing in a few other young talented guys, which are just going to help us and push us even further as a group. So we're all excited and can't wait to get going."

With less than two weeks to go until Australia’s first official game against, Baynes knows that this upcoming tune-up game against Team USA is key to preparing the Boomers’ roster.

"We can't warm into it,” Baynes said. “We have to be ready come September 1 and we've got the best preparation we've ever had as our opportunity to do so…We're going to take full advantage of it and it's going to be fun. You forget how much fun playing basketball can be until you're playing for your mates with your country on your chest as well, that's a pretty awesome feeling."

MIKAL BRIDGES – USA

Mikal Bridges was chosen to participated in the 2019 USA Men’s Select Team and was able to take part in the USA Basketball National Team’s training camp from Aug. 5-9 in Las Vegas.

“Really honored,” Bridges replied when asked about his reaction to being named to the Select Team. “It’s a blessing. You talk about this and think about this growing up and it’s just really cool to have the opportunity to be in this position.” 

The Select Team is comprised of some of the top young talent in the NBA and gives the futures stars the opportunity to go head-to-head against the league’s elite players.

“Just learning from the best,” Bridges said. “Learning from the coaches and just going out there and meet more friends. I know probably some friends out there. It’s really cool to just go out there for that experience and just learn more about the game.”

ELIE OKOBO – FRANCE

Elie Okobo joined France’s national team as they prepare for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Okobo has been participating in training camp with the Blues and is among the group from which France’s 12-player World Cup roster will be selected.

“I think we have to be ambitious and fight for a medal,” Okobo told BrightSideOfTheSun.com. “But for this, the training camp and the whole preparation will have to go perfectly well for everyone and we have to be healthy from day one. A competition like a FIBA Basketball World Cup is very intense and, as many teams are going to be ambitious, we will have to be physically, mentally and collectively ready for this competition.”

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