Typically July is a very boring month in the basketball offseason unless you’re a super fan of recruiting. This July, however, has plenty of action with FIBA Tournaments, the Olympics, and The Basketball Tournament all taking place. Several current and former Gonzaga Bulldogs will be participating in those events so let’s give a rundown of who is playing, where they’re playing, and when they’re playing, along with those who missed out on playing for whatever reason.
Domantas Sabonis - Lithuanian National Team
Sabonis is hoping to represent his home country of Lithuania in the Olympics next month. First, they have to qualify. They missed out on all qualifying bids in the past two years so they are part of a last chance tournament starting this week. The good news is that they’ll get some home cooking. The six-team tournament will be hosted in Lithuania over the next seven days with two three-team pods playing a round robin before bracket play. The winner of this tournament will be in the same pool play region as Japan in the Olympics, so a Lithuania win will guarantee a Sabonis vs Rui match-up on the International stage.
June 29: Lithuania vs Venezuela - 9:30 am pacific
July 1: Lithuania vs South Korea - 9:30 am pacific
July 3: Semi-Finals - Time TBD
July 4: Championship - 9:30 am pacifc
Rui Hachimura - Japanese National Team
The host team in the Olympics, Japan, will feature Rui Hachimura as one of their star athletes. He is under strong consideration to be the flag bearer in the opening ceremonies. In any event, Rui will get to face some of the best competition in the world on an international stage. Japan is in the same group as Spain and Argentina, two of the top five teams in the world, so they face a very daunting task. The fourth team could be Lithuania, who is ranked just inside the top 10. This will be, without a doubt, the best group in the pool play round.
July 26: Japan vs Spain - 5:00 am pacific
July 28: Japan vs Play-in winner: 9:40 pm pacific
July 31: Japan vs Argentina: 9:40 pm pacific
Chet Holmgren - U-19 United States Team
Holmgren is one of six incoming freshmen to make the U-19 FIBA World Cup team for the United States. Those six are joined by a half dozen rising sophomores. Together, they form the favorite to win the tournament, as they did in 2019 when Jalen Suggs was on the roster. The team left for Latvia on Monday afternoon as they’ll get a couple days to acclimate themselves to the time change before starting up pool play. The 16 participating countries are broken up into four groups of four and the top two in each group move to bracket play for a chance to win a medal. All of these games should be streamed on YouTube. Visit the FIBA page for more details.
July 3: USA vs Turkey - 7:30 am pacific
July 4: USA vs Mali - 10:30 am pacific
July 6: USA vs Australia - 10:30 am pacific
Filip Petrusev - Serbian National Team
Petrusev, fresh off an MVP season overseas, is playing for his home country of Serbia as he awaits his fate in the NBA Draft. Like Lithuania, Serbia must qualify for the Olympics by winning a play-in tournament this week. Also like Lithuania, Serbia will be hosting the tournament so that bodes well for their chances. With a win, they will be in a pool play group with Australia, one of the best teams in the world.
June 29: Serbia vs Dominican Republic - 11:15 am pacific
June 30: Serbia vs Philippines - 11:15 am pacific
July 3: Semi-Finals - Time TBD
July 4: Championship - 11:30 am pacific
Josh Perkins - Jimmy V TBT Team
The Basketball Tournament, for those who don’t know, is a 64-team, winner-take-all tournament that has been going on every Summer for nearly a decade now. Last year, Josh Perkins joined the tournament for the first time, as part of the “Playing for Jimmy V” team. Unfortunately, someone in their group tested positive for Covid-19 and their team had to leave the bubble before playing in their first game. They are back this year and Covid (hopefully) won’t get in the way this time. Perkins is joined by former Rutgers star Corey Sanders as they take on Brotherly Love in the first round, a team of Bradley University Alumni, highlighted by former first round pick Patrick O’Bryant. These two teams met in 2019 and Jimmy V fell 80-67, before Josh Perkins ever joined the team. For the full bracket of this year’s TBT, click here.
July 25 - Playing for Jimmy V vs Brotherly Love - 5:00 pm pacific
Strawther was scheduled to play for Puerto Rico in the U-19 World Cup like he did two years ago when he averaged 20 points a game. He went to their training camp and then returned to Gonzaga and will no longer participate in the event. Puerto Rico’s basketball federation doesn’t have the best track record of keeping their best athletes. Their amenities are not great and Strawther did not have the infrastructure that he has at Gonzaga. In the end, he left Puerto Rico and decided not to travel with the team to Latvia. He will get a full Summer of workouts in Spokane instead.
Nembhard was the final cut on Canada’s senior men’s team. He spent several days in Canada trying out for the Olympic qualifying roster, but was the final player left off the 12-man group. Canada is in the same boat as Lithuania where they must win a play-in tournament this week to qualify for the Olympics next month. Nembhard was the second youngest player in camp and head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors was impressed by his ability to play in ball screens. Ultimately, they went with more a more experienced group. This won’t be the last you hear from Nembhard, though, as he has a very bright future ahead and should be fighting for a spot on their National team for many years to come.
NOTE: Kevin Pangos, Kelly Olynyk, Kyle Wiltjer, and Brandon Clarke all declined or were not invited to Canada’s training camp. However, the qualifying roster is not the same as the official Olympic roster. If one of them is asked to join next month, they are eligible to do so, assuming they win their qualifying tournament which is hosted in Canada this week.
One of Gonzaga’s prized recruits was invited to the USA training camp for the FIBA U-19 World Cup. He did not make the initial cuts and has since arrived in Spokane for Summer workouts. Sallis is one of many perimeter players fighting for playing time when November rolls around.
Ballo will play for Mali in the U-19 FIBA World Cup as he did two years ago. They made a historic run in 2019 all the way to the title game for the first time ever before falling to the United States. Those two teams will face off again on fourth of July, which means we will see a Chet Holmgren vs Oumar Ballo showdown. They likely won’t guard each other much at all, but it will still be interesting to see Ballo’s development over the last several months as he looks to carve out a role for Tommy Lloyd at Arizona.