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Fiba World Cup luster dimmed by absent stars


Some of the biggest names in Fiba basketball are missing from the 2023 World Cup action.

MANILA, Philippines — The Fiba World Cup features the best basketball teams in the world, but the game’s brightest stars will be missing.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic, who have four NBA MVPs and a few NBA championships between them, are just a fraction of the top talent who won’t be around for the global showcase.

The Fiba World Cup will start on August 25 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece)

Greece's Giannis Antetokounmpo Fiba World Cup

FILE — Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece. (Photo by Nicolas ASFOURI / AFP)

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence due to left knee surgery in June spoiled what could have been a mouth-watering game between Greece and USA on August 28 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Antetokounmpo was injured during last season’s playoffs which saw the top seeded Milwaukee Bucks knocked out by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference first round.

The two-time NBA MVP of the Milwaukee Bucks announced on August 11 that he was not yet ready to participate in the Fiba World Cup.

“Everyone knows that my passion and love for my national team has changed and never will. Since the end of my NBA season, I have pushed my body to its limits to be the player I need to be to help our team achieve the goals we have set for ourselves,” Antetokounmpo said on his social media accounts.

“But after months of work and multiple meetings with the medical staff, it’s clear that I’m not ready to compete (at) the level I need to compete in the World Cup.

Nikola Jokic (Serbia)

Nikola Jokic from Serbia

Nikola Jokic from Serbia. -FIBA BASKETBALL

A Herculean effort in the NBA playoffs took its toll on Nikola Jokic, who led the Denver Nuggets to a historic championship in June.

The MVP of the final, according to Serbian coach Svetislav Pesic, would have been ruled out of the World Cup due to physical and mental exhaustion.

Two-time NBA MVP Jokic would have been a prime attraction in Manila with Serbia, who face China, South Sudan and Puerto Rico in Group B.

Jamal Murray (Canada)

Jamal Murray NBA Denver Nuggets Canada

FILE – Jamal Murray of Canada. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)

Denver Nuggets’ other star Jamal Murray also retired his name for Canada after a long run in the NBA playoffs.

Murray said he needed “additional recovery” after consulting with medical staff and the Canada team. Murray attended the Canada camp earlier this month before retiring.

“When I arrived at training camp, I wanted to see how my body would react after a long and demanding season and if I would be physically capable of competing at the highest level required for the World Cup,” Murray said in a statement. distributed by Canada Basketball.

Victor Wembanyama (France)

Frenchman Victor Wembanyama fiba world cup

Frenchman Victor Wembanyama. –FIBA BASKETBALL

Victor Wembanyama will miss the France World Cup campaign to “prepare his body for the many events that await him in the years to come”, including the next NBA season.

The 7-foot-4 Wembanyama, the NBA’s biggest prospect since LeBron James, was selected as the first overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs in last June’s draft.

“I hope people will understand. It’s frustrating for me too. The France team is more central than ever. I want to win as many titles as possible with them. But I think it’s a necessary sacrifice.

Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania)

Fiba World Cup Domantas Sabonis of Lithuania

Domantas Sabonis from Lithuania. –FIBA BASKETBALL

After suffering an avulsion fracture of the ulnar collateral ligament of his right thumb last season in the NBA, Damontas Sabonis is unfit to lead Lithuania to the World Cup.

Sabonis, who was coming off an NBA All-Star season, was injured last December and still managed to propel the Sacramento Kings into the playoffs.

Al Horford and Chris Duarte (Dominican Republic)

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics - Game 4

FILE – Al Horford of the Dominican Republic. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

Al Horford and Chris Duarte will not play for the Dominican Republic, which are in Group A with Gilas Pilipinas, Italy and Angola.

The two, however, did not name the reasons for their absence from the World Cup, which is a blow for the Dominicans and a shot in the arm for Gilas.

Horford, 37, appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals the previous NBA season with the Boston Celtics.

Duarte, meanwhile, had two promising first seasons with the Pacers. He was traded to Sacramento last month.

Ricky Rubio (Spain)

Spaniard Ricky Rubio Fiba World Cup

Spaniard Ricky Rubio. –FIBA BASKETBALL

There will be a new World Cup MVP no matter who wins the prestigious trophy.

Ricky Rubio, who became the best player of the 2019 edition after leading Spain to the title, announced earlier this month that he was taking a break from basketball to focus on his mental health.

“I have decided to stop my professional activity to take care of my mental health,” Rubio said in a statement released by the Spanish Basketball Federation, or FEB. “I want to thank all the support I received from the FEB to understand my decision. Today #LaFamilia makes more sense than ever. Thank you.”

The 32-year-old goalkeeper has been playing professionally since he was 14 years old.

Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia)

Latvian Kristaps Porzingis Fiba World Cup

Kristaps Porzingis from Latvia. –FIBA BASKETBALL

Kristaps Porzingis is another big man who won’t be able to strut his stuff in the World Cup.

Porzingis, who was recently traded to the Boston Celtics, will not be part of Latvia due to a foot injury.

“Such a decision is not easy to make, but I promise that I will be there and support the team as much as possible,” Porzingis wrote in Latvian.

Rui Hachimura (Japan)

Rui Hachimura

Rui Hachimura from Japan. (Masanori Kumagai/Kyodo News via AP)

Co-hosts Japan, who are in a tough Group E, will be without main man Rui Hachimura.

Hachimura is retiring his name from the Japanese team after a “long playoff streak” where he played a big part in the Los Angeles Lakers’ run to the Western Conference Finals.

Ben Simmons (Australia)

Ben Simmons nets NBA

FILE – Australian Ben Simmons. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP

After his NBA return with the Brooklyn Nets was cut short, Ben Simmons will remain on the sidelines after deciding not to join Australia at the World Cup.

Simmons is out for the Boomers to continue rehabilitation for a back injury. He hasn’t seen action for Australia in a long time after pulling out of the squad just weeks before the Tokyo Games where the Boomers won bronze.

“Ben needs more time to focus on his rehabilitation and he is looking forward to being part of the Boomers in the future,” Basketball Australia said. “We wish Ben every success in his recovery.

Danilo Gallinari (Italy)

Danilo Gallinari italy fiba world cup

Italian Danilo Gallinari. –FIBA BASKETBALL

Danilo Gallinari is another player Gilas Pilipinas won’t have to worry about during the World Cup.

Gallinari, who was supposed to boost the Boston Celtics last season, is still not ready to play after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in a Fiba World Cup qualifier against Georgia in September. . It was the same knee injury he suffered in 2013.

Steven Adams (New Zealand)

steven adams

New Zealand’s Steven Adams. Justin Ford/Getty Images/AFP

New Zealand will have to wait longer before Steven Adams finally gets his chance to play for his country.

Adams missed the rest of the Memphis Grizzlies season after suffering a knee sprain in January.


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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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