Plenty of NBA talent left in WC semi

September 13, 2019
Ricky Rubio of Spain controls the ball over Lukasz Koszarek of Poland during their quarter-final match for the FIBA Basketball World Cup at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai on Tuesday.
Ricky Rubio of Spain controls the ball over Lukasz Koszarek of Poland during their quarter-final match for the FIBA Basketball World Cup at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai on Tuesday.

BEIJING (AP):

There's plenty of NBA talent left among the World Cup semi-finalists, even if that foursome does not include the United States.

Spain, France and Australia are stocked with 13 current NBA players. Only Argentina doesn't have one, although their key player is Luis Scola, who had a decade-long career there before taking his game to China.

"I think we should enjoy all the NBA players who are still here and try to compete with them," Willy Hernangomez, the 6-foot-10 (2.09-metre) centre for Spain and the Charlotte Hornets, told The Associated Press.

Spain faces Australia on Friday, and France plays Argentina in the other semi-final game at the venue built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The final and third-place games will be Sunday in the same arena.

"Obviously, right now without the USA, without Serbia - there are still many NBA players from France, from Australia, and Spain," Hernangomez said. "The talent is there. Not just in the NBA but around the world."

How's this for a brief Who's Who of NBA players in the semi-finals?

France is led by dominating centre Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz and Evan Fournier of the Orlando Magic, who scored 22 in ousting the United States in the quarter-finals. Gobert had 21.

Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs has been lights-out for Australia. Spain is loaded with Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns, Marc Gasol of the Toronto Raptors and the Hernangomez brothers - Willy and Juancho.

As has been well documented, many high-profile American players decided not to play in the World Cup, which was not the case for other top tournament teams. World basketball is catching up with the Americans, and less than the best is no longer good enough.

"Everybody's got the same chance to win (in the semi-finals)" Hernangomez said. "Obviously, without those two big teams - the USA and Serbia - everybody's got a better chance."

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