Drew Gooden for Team Finland at the FIBA World Cup? Plus Other Wizards and Ex-Wizards
[UPDATE: Aug. 21, 2014, 11:07 am — Per an article from Finnish outlet svenska.yle.fi, it seems that Drew Gooden might not be on Finland’s final submitted roster of the 12 players who will play for the country at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, which starts on Aug. 30 in Spain. Working on confirming the information; Finland submitted their roster yesterday per reports. Their first game on Aug. 30 is against the United States. Erik Murphy, currently a Cleveland Cavalier, is on Finland’s roster.
UPDATE #2: Aug. 21, 2014, 1:08 pm — TAI can confirm that Gooden will not play for Finland at FIBA, per sources familiar with the situation. Although Gooden’s mother is from Finland, he was never officially a native of the country, as he was raised in the U.S. The Finnish basketball federation tried to fast-track the process of obtaining citizenship that can take months to years in order to get Gooden eligible to play in Spain but was unable to complete the necessary paperwork. Both sides are said to be disappointed.]
It was a tiniest of footnotes on Friday evening, a night that started with fun but ended with a tragic injury, lots of discussion, and calls for changing the rules.
Fran Fraschilla, analyst for the televised Team USA scrimmage in Las Vegas, started to speaking about the wild card teams which were added to the field for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain that begins on August 30.
“The surprising one is Finland, who is No. 39 in the world right now,” said Fraschilla. Sidekick Mark Jones chimed in to the discussion, later relaying that Drew Gooden is set to play for Finland. Fraschilla concurred, citing the fact that Gooden’s mother is from Finland.
“Drew Gooden finished the year strongly with the Washington Wizards and did well this year in the post season,” Jones continued, “and Gooden’s been playing for Finland.” The Wizards re-signed Gooden to a one-year contract in mid-July.
A member of the Wizards organization has confirmed that Gooden is on Finland’s submitted list of players to FIBA, but that does not necessarily mean he will make the final team and suit up on the hardwood in Bilbao, Spain on August 30.
Finland was one of four wild cards to make the 2014 FIBA World Cup; Brazil, Turkey, and Greece were the others. Finland has also been accused of bribing their way into being selected from a group of 15 wild card applicants (monetary contribution is evidently part of FIBA’s evaluation process).
Gooden’s father, Andrew Gooden, met his mother, Ulla, while he was playing professional basketball in Finland. Thus, Gooden is eligible to play for the Finnish national team.
Finland has never played in a worldwide FIBA competition, though their basketball team has participated in two Olympic games (1952 and 1964—they hosted in 1952). Finland has also appeared in just two FIBA EuroBasket tournaments since 1995 (2011 and 2013) and finished 9th both times.
Finland will open group play against the United States at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 30. The Finnish team is set to feature Hanno Möttölä, who played at the University of Utah and for two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, and Erik Murphy, who played for the Utah Jazz last season (and was recently traded to Cleveland). Murphy grew up in the U.S. (was born in France), and like Gooden, has a Finnish mother.
With the surprising news about Gooden, TAI takes a look at some of the other Wizards and ex-Wizards who could be making an appearance at this year’s FIBA World Cup. (Note: non-Team USA players, as John Wall and Bradley Beal are both participating in the U.S. men’s basketball training camp but are considered long shots to make the final roster of 12 for FIBA 2014.)
EuroBasket 2015 Qualification
The FIBA World Cup isn’t the only international competition this summer. Twenty-six teams are vying for a spot at EuroBasket 2015 by facing off in group play between August 10 and August 27. The Czech Republic, featuring Tomas Satoransky and Jan Vesely, is one such team and will begin play on August 10 versus Georgia. The Czechs are also paired with Portugal and Hungary in Group E.
Poland is also competing for a spot at EuroBasket 2015. And while Marcin Gortat has long said that he would not be playing for Poland this summer (so he could focus on free agency), as recently as July 26, Gortat alluded to it being a possibility on Twitter (h/t via TAI’s Polish correspondent, Bart Bielecki).
In consideration of the Paul George injury, as well as the fact Poland’s first game against Germany is less than a week away (Aug. 10), his participation seems highly unlikely.
At the 2013 EuroBasket tournament, Vesely, Satoransky, and the Czechs stunned a Gortat-led Polish team with a thrilling 69-68 win in group play.
UPDATE: It seems that Jan Vesely will not play for the Czech Republic team this summer, per tweet from @Luke_Mellow. Interesting.
2014 FIBA World Cup
Both Nene and Leandro Barbosa appear on the roster. Barbosa never suited up for the Wizards but was traded to Washington in February 2013 along with Jason Collins for Jordan Crawford.
In May, Nene announced that he would be playing for Brazil at FIBA this summer. At the 2012 London Olympics, Nene aggravated a foot injury. He did not suit up for Brazil at last summer’s FIBA Americas tournament. Brazil went winless and Nene was later booed by his home country fans during a Wizards vs. Bulls exhibition game in Rio de Janeiro last October. This time, Nene says he owes it to those in Brazil to play, telling the Washington Post: “I have responsibility. I have a lot of children who look for me, so I need to do the right thing.”
Now you know why Washington was concerned with getting deeper in the frontcourt this summer with the acquisitions of Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair, in addition to retaining Kevin Serpahin, Gortat, and, of course, Drew Gooden.
First game: vs. France on Sat., Aug. 30 at 12:00 p.m. EDT.
Other Group A members: Iran, Spain, Serbia, and Egypt.
Andray Blatche has obtained a Philippines passport and is indeed set to play for their national team. This is not a typo. In May, the Philippine Senate approved a bill, 20-0, granting Blatche naturalized citizenship, despite Blatche not having any Philippine heritage nor ever having been to the country. In June, the Philippines President signed that bill into law.
Blatche, nonetheless, remains an NBA free agent. So, why not? Blatche will be the tallest player on the team and already has a jersey, No. 11. He is currently practicing with the team and is in competition with Marcus Douthit, a fellow Syracuse, NY native, for the one spot FIBA allows for a naturalized citizen.
First game: vs. Croatia on Sat., Aug. 30 at 6:30 a.m. EDT.
Other Group B members: Greece, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Senegal.
Hamady N’Diaye, 2010 Wizards draft pick, is on the initial 22-man roster for his home country. “H” was the 56th overall pick in 2010 (technically by Minnesota, as he was acquired in the same trade that brought Trevor Booker to Washington), and appeared in 19 total games with the Wizards over two seasons (and 34 games in the D-League). N’diaye has spent a lot of time playing professionally in China and appeared in 14 games with the Sacramento Kings last season (as well as in 17 more games for the D-League).
I spoke extensively with N’Diaye at the 2012 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, a point when he was simply hopeful to one day suit up for Senegal. Now it seems like he’s a lock to make the team.
First game: vs. Greece on Sat., Aug. 30 at 2:00 p.m. EDT.
Other Group B members: Puerto Rico, Croatia, Argentina, and Philippines.
The Wizards did not clear Kevin Seraphin to play for France as he is still recovering from a knee scope after last season, but former Wizards summer leaguer in 2012, Kim Tillie, is a candidate to make the final roster for Les Bleus.
First game: vs. France on Sat., Aug. 30 at 12:00 p.m. EDT.
Other Group A members: Serbia, Egypt, Spain, and Iran.
Emir Preldzic, whose rights the Wizards acquired in the Antawn Jamison trade with Cleveland but whose rights they also gave up in the DeJuan Blair trade with Dallas, will play for Turkey, despite being a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Preldzic has long held dual citizenship).
First game: vs. New Zealand on Sat., Aug. 30 at 10:00 a.m. EDT.
Other Group C members: USA, Ukraine, Finland, and Dominican Republic.
One-time almost Wizard Juan Carlos Navarro (2002 draft pick, 39th overall) will once again suit up for Spain. Ricky Rubio will also play for Spain, of course, but unlike Navarro, the Wizards never technically drafted Rubio, only traded the fifth overall pick in 2009—along with Darius Songaila, Etan Thomas and Oleksiy Pecherov—for Mike Miller and Randy Foye.
First game: vs. Iran on Sat., Aug. 30 at 4:00 p.m. EDT.
Other Group A members: Egypt, Brazil, France, and Serbia.
There were once whispers that Wizard-for-a-year Fabricio Oberto would again suit up for his home country, but Oberto turned 39 in March and its unlikely he wants to put his body through such again. Sidenote: The San Antonio Spurs have enacted a clause that will keep Manu Ginobili from playing due to a stress injury in his right leg, his international career is likely over.
First game: vs. Puerto Rico on Sat., Aug. 30 at 11:30 a.m. EDT.
Other Group A members: Croatia, Philippines, Senegal, and Greece.
Neither Peter John Ramos nor Oleksiy Pecherov currently appear on FIBA rosters for Puerto Rico and Ukraine respectively.