With so much focus on De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley trying to make the Team USA roster, it’s often overlooked that the Sacramento Kings have players all over the globe preparing for the FIBA World Cup in China later this month.
Fox and Barnes still are in the running for Team USA and they'll be joined in the tournament by Cory Joseph, who is playing for Team Canada, Isaiah Pineiro who accepted an invitation to play for Puerto Rico and both Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica, who both are part of a powerhouse Serbian national team.
At 4:25 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a video was posted of Bogdanovic dropping a cool 27 points in Serbia’s friendly matchup against Lithuania on Monday evening and it didn’t take long for Buddy Hield to chime in.
That boy went crazy last night 🔥🔥🔥— Buddy Love !!!! (@buddyhield) August 13, 2019
Bogdanovic responded to his Kings teammate and of course, Hield never is one to allow someone else to have the last word.
They not ready for whats coming up in SacTown 😎— Bogdan Bogdanovic (@LeaderOfHorde) August 13, 2019
Big facts— Buddy Love !!!! (@buddyhield) August 13, 2019
This was the second of two matchups between Serbia and Lithuania this week, with the Serbs taking home victories in both.
Bogdanovic led the way with 18 points and Bjelica chipped 15 in the team’s 72-68 win on Aug. 10. Bogdanovic’s 27 points were tops again in Serbia’s 95-91 win Monday, with Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic chipping in 14.
Serbia is considered one of the favorites to challenge Team USA during the World Cup, although they recently lost Milos Teodosic to injury. In addition to Bogdanovic, Bjelica and Jokic, they also have 7-foot-3 giant Boban Majanovic and 2019 Kings second-round draft pick Vanja Marinkovic on their squad.
"Let’s let [Team USA] play their basketball and we will play ours and if we meet, may God help them," Serbian head coach Sasha Djordjevic said on Serbian National television over the weekend.
Lithuania is stacked as well. They have a big frontline, including the Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis and Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas. In addition, they have Arturas Gudaitis, a 6-foot-10 banger that played for the Kings' summer league team during the 2016-17 season.
Team USA is in Group E with the Czech Republic, Japan and Turkey, so we won't see a Bogdanovic vs. Fox battle early in the tournament. Serbia is part of Group D with Angola, Italy and the Philippines. Team USA opens the tournament against the Czech Republic on Sept. 1, while Serbia and Angola are the first game of the event on Aug. 31.