International intrigue all over the NBA map
Thanks to some wild scores in the FIBA World Cup and Olympic pre-qualifying play, there are several surprising storylines we're tracking in our latest around-the-league column
The most interesting team in international basketball as we speak is Canada.
It's a designation that the Canadians indisputably deserve after they demolished France by a whopping 30 points Friday in the teams' Group H opener at the FIBA World Cup.
The stars of the France squad that got routed by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Co., after all, are all the same guys (Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum and Nando de Colo) who conspired to beat the United States at both the 2019 World Cup in China and the Tokyo Olympics that were contested in 2021.
France's equally stunning loss Sunday to Kristaps Porziņģis-less Latvia doesn't change that sentiment too much. As I gushed on Twitter after Canada's 95-65 runaway: This is the red and white that the international basketball community has been waiting for (and frankly fearing) since players like Gilgeous-Alexander, Jamal Murray and Andrew Wiggins began to emerge ... and the latter two aren't even on this team.
The second-most interesting team in FIBA circles right now, though, isn't even at the World Cup.
I'm talking, of course, about The Bahamas.
With Deandre Ayton, Buddy Hield and Eric Gordon all on the roster, Bahamanian basketball hit new heights earlier this month with two victories over host Argentina in the span of a week. The latter road win swiftly eliminated the only country besides the United States to win Olympic gold since NBA players began participating in the Summer Games in 1992 and will furnish The Bahamas with a shot to qualify for next summer's Paris Games as one of 24 countries that participates in four six-team tournaments that will decide the last four teams in the 12-nation Olympic field.
And word is that The Bahamas, which has never participated in Olympic men’s basketball or the FIBA World Cup, is not done pursuing proven NBA talent for its roster.
Read on for the full breakdown in my around-the-league notes below ...