Jokic, Giannis in Manila? PH hosts NBA superstars for FIBA World Cup

May 17, 2023

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MANILA, Philippines – By the luck of the draw, Manila will host the brightest NBA superstars in the FIBA World Cup.

Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, and Domantas Sabonis are expected to see action in the Philippines after their teams got drawn in Groups A to D, which will play at the Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena.

Jokic, a two-time NBA MVP with the Denver Nuggets, banners Serbia as it locks horns with China, Puerto Rico, and South Sudan in Group B.

Aside from Jokic, Serbia boasts of a bevy of NBA players, including Boban Marjanovic of the Houston Rockets, Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Atlanta Hawks, and Aleksej Pokusevski of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

South Sudan has Bol Bol (Orlando Magic) and Wenyen Gabriel (Los Angeles Lakers), Puerto Rico has Jose Alvarado (New Orleans Pelicans), while China reportedly plans to naturalize Kyle Anderson (Minnesota Timberwolves).

Group C is where the bulk of NBA stars are.

Seeking to recapture its throne after settling for seventh in the last World Cup, Team USA is out to parade a formidable crew made up of NBA standouts as it clashes with Greece, Jordan, and New Zealand in Group C.

In its latest show of force when it won gold in the Tokyo Olympics, the United States paraded the likes of Tatum (Boston Celtics), Kevin Durant and Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), and Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers).

There is also hope that Golden State guard Steph Curry will suit up since Warriors head coach Steve Kerr will call the shots for Team USA, with Monty Williams (Suns) and Erik Spoelstra (Miami Heat) serving as his assistants.

Going up against Team USA is a Greece squad set to be headlined by two-time NBA MVP Giannis and his brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Which table are you sitting at? 🤔 #FIBAWC x #WinForAll 🏆

— FIBA (@FIBA) April 29, 2023

“It’s always the same kind of guys, the NBA superstars if they all come, Luka (Doncic), Giannis, Jokic. They all played at the EuroBasket last year which talent-wise was an amazing tournament and turnout (by fans),” said Dallas Mavericks and Germany legend Dirk Nowitzki said in a story on the FIBA site.

“Hopefully we’ll have the same here at the World Cup, basketball on the highest level. We’ll see who the US team brings. You never know. We’ll see who’s available, who is healthy, but to me, they will always be the favorite, no matter who they have because of the talent pool they have. It’ll be fun to watch.”

New Zealand has one NBA player in Steven Adams (Memphis Grizzlies), although he has not played in a FIBA event in more than a decade.

Likely to be reinforced by Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, Gilas Pilipinas is also on a collision course with NBA stalwarts in Group A against Italy, Dominican Republic, and Angola.

If the stars align, Dominican Republic will have a deadly Big Three composed of Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), Al Horford (Boston Celtics), and Chris Duarte (Indiana Pacers).

Meanwhile, Italy has its fingers crossed that reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero of the Magic will commit to play in the World Cup and team up with Danilo Gallinari (Celtics) and Simone Fontecchio (Jazz).

Angola is also represented in the NBA through Bruno Fernando of the Atlanta Hawks.

Sabonis of the Sacramento Kings and Jonas Valanciunas of the Pelicans are expected to show the way for Lithuania in Group D against Egypt, Mexico, and Montenegro.

Mexico hopes to have Juan Toscano-Anderson of the Jazz, while Montenegro eyes Nikola Vucevic of the Chicago Bulls to be its main man.

Groups A and B will duke it out at the Araneta Coliseum and Groups C and D will play their games at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Japan will host Group E (Germany, Finland, Australia, and Japan) and Group F (Slovenia, Cape Verde, Georgia, and Venezuela), while Indonesia will host Group G (Iran, Spain, Ivory Coast, and Brazil) and Group H (Canada, Latvia, Lebanon, and France).

The World Cup will come off the wraps on August 29 and run until September 10.


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