Ricky Rubio Becomes FIBA World Cup All-Time Assist Leader
The Spanish National Team has been one of the most dominant squads throughout the 2019 FIBA World Cup with Phoenix Suns’ Ricky Rubio leading the way. The undefeated Spaniards took down Poland 90-78 on Tuesday and Rubio became the all-time assist leader in FIBA history.
Rubio entered the game tied with former Argentine player Pablo Prigioni with 106 assists in his FIBA career. He found teammate Juancho Hernangomez (Denver Nuggets) beyond the arc during the second quarter; Hernangomez drained the three and Rubio passed Prigioni and took sole possession of the all-time assist leader with 107.
"It's an honor, really, to be mentioned in the same sentence as one of my idols,” Rubio said via FIBA.Basketball.com. “I played against him multiple times and I learned a lot from him. Being named in the same category as him, it's a huge honor.”
All eyes have been on Rubio since he first made his professional debut for Spain at age 14, yet he was still able to become the all-time leader in just his 22nd-career World Cup game.
"Before, when we were coming here, I was going through the past and I looked at a photo from the podium when we won (FIBA EuroBasket) in 2009,” Spanish National Team Head Coach Sergio Scariolo said via FIBA.Basketball.com. “I was watching the faces of the players. You could see Ricky being really, really a baby. It was 10 years ago, he was 18, but my point is... When I took over, my decision was: 'For however long I'm coaching this team, you will be my starting point guard.' Because he's special. He can do many different things, such a good passer, smart player, good defensive player. He's finding his way, his balance between running the team and scoring now. He is still in process. I think Ricky is still on his way to improve, to finally get that balance between passing the ball and shooting the ball himself. He is close to the full maturity and best years are still to come for him.”
Rubio not only broke the record against Poland but secured the victory with nine assists to go along with his game-high 19 points, five rebounds and a steal. The Suns newest point guard has been putting on a clinic throughout the World Cup, leading undefeated Spain in both points per game (15.3) and assists per game (5.5).
Rubio’s efforts have helped Spain qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan next August but his international play is not done yet. Spain has now advanced to the semi-finals as Rubio will tip-off against Suns teammate Aron Baynes and Australia with a chance to go to the FIBA World Cup Final on the line. The game will take place on Friday September 13 at 1 A.M. Arizona time as the two Suns players battle it out against one another.