2019 Spurs FIBA World Cup Round-Up

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PSN illustration/Credit: Basketball Australia

The 2019 FIBA World Cup ended Sunday with Spain taking home the Gold medal, Argentina the Silver medal, and France the Bronze medal. San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills and Australia came in fourth after falling to France 67-59 in the Bronze medal game.

Here’s a quick round-up of each Spurs player who participated at the World Cup and where their national team finished in the competition.

Patty Mills and Australia

Mills and Australia ended up going 6-2 at the World Cup, with their semifinals loss to Spain being the game that knocked them out of contention for the Gold medal. Through his eight games of FIBA play, Mills led Australia in scoring with 22.8 points per game, while shooting 49.6% from the field on 15.4 shots per game. Mills also added 3.9 assists, 2.3 rebounds, and 3.5 turnovers in his 33.9 minutes per game. By being the top team from the FIBA Oceania division at the World Cup, Mills and Australia have automatically qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.

Mills will have two weeks to rest and recover before training camp with the Spurs begins October 1.

Derrick White, Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, and Team USA

Team USA finished with a 6-2 record as well, but where they lost was much earlier than would have been anticipated. Team USA fell out of contention for the Gold in their quarter-finals game against France. After that, they had a chance to still finish 5th, but they then lost to Serbia. They ended up defeating Poland in their final game to finish 7th at the World Cup. White played in all eight games with Team USA, finishing with 5.9 points (46.3% FG on 5.1 shots), 2.5 assists, 1.3 rebounds, 1.4 turnovers, and 1.3 steals per game in 15.5 minutes of play. Team USA also qualified for the 2020 Tokyo games by being one of the top two teams from the FIBA Americas.

For White, it’ll be interesting to see if he gets an invite back next year in the Olympics when more NBA players could potentially try to make the roster since this year’s run ended up being a disappointment for the Americans. White’s final game was on Saturday, so like Mills, he’ll have two weeks off along with Coach Popovich before training camp starts.

Marco Belinelli and Italy

Belinelli and Italy finished 10th at the World Cup, by going 3-2 in the five games they played in. Italy’s big loss came in the second round against Spain, which prevented them from advancing to the quarter-finals. During his five games, Belinelli finished as Italy’s second leading scorer, averaging 15 points (40% shooting on 12 shots per game), four rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 turnovers, and 1.2 steals in 29 minutes per contest.

By not placing in the top two of European countries participating at the World Cup, Italy still hasn’t qualified for the 2020 Olympic games. Since Belinelli’s last game took place September 8, he’ll have had three weeks of rest before training camp begins with the Spurs.

Chimezie Metu and Nigeria

After suffering two losses to Russia and Argentina early in the first round of group play, Nigeria never had a shot to advance to the second round. They ended up going 3-2 in their five games at the World Cup, where they left on a three-game winning streak. Metu played in all five games, averaging nine points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.6 turnovers, and 1.2 blocks off the bench in 18.8 minutes per game. The one impressive part of Metu’s game at the World Cup was his three-point shot. He attempted 1.8 threes per game and knocked down 55.6% of those shots. Now, the FIBA line is closer than the NBA three-point line, so you’ll have to think of it more like the NBA corner three. Knowing that Metu looked more comfortable attempting threes in big games on the national stage, it’ll be interesting to see if he brings that shot to training camp and the preseason with the Spurs in October.

Though Nigeria finished in 17th place at the World Cup, they automatically qualified for the 2020 Olympics by being the best team from the FIBA Africa division. Since Metu’s last game took place on September 8, he too will have had three weeks off before training camp starts with San Antonio.

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