Utah Jazz foreign internationals react to FIBA World Cup draw

(Photo: CGTN)

After the draw for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup was released on March 16, non-U.S. players of the NBA's Utah Jazz shared their opinions about the teams they will meet during the group stage in interviews with Tencent Sports.

The Jazz have seven internationals from six countries: Rudy Gobert (France), Ricky Rubio (Spain), Joe Ingles and Dante Exum (Australia), Raul Neto (Brazil), Thabo Sefolosha (Switzerland) and Naz Mitrou-Long (Canada).

Thanks to his 2.16-meter-height and 2.35-meter-wingspan, Gobert is the rim protector of both Utah and France who are in Group G with Germany, Dominican Republic and Jordan.

The French giant hopes that he can stay healthy and aims to win a medal for his country. He also said that he did not want to put a limit to their goal at the World Cup because they wanted to defeat everyone. France finished third at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

Spain have been a traditionally strong team in basketball and they challenged the USA at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, losing both times in the finals. Age has taken a toll on their dominance in Europe, but they are still No.2 in the FIBA rankings. Spain are in Group C with Iran, Puerto Rico and Tunisia.

Ricky Rubio, the team's starting point guard and major orchestrator, felt very good about the draw result but he also emphasized that Spain would not underestimate any opponent. When asked what he will do if he runs into any Jazz teammate on the court, Rubio said: "No mercy. If I see Rudy (Gobert), I will attack him all night."

Compared with the light-heartedness of Gobert and Rubio, Ingles was definitely unhappy about the draw result. Instead of joking with journalists like he usually does, Ingles bluntly refused to answer any question about the FIBA World Cup.

His attitude was understandable considering that Australia are in Group H, with Canada, Lithuania and Senegal, the real group of death. Lithuania are ranked No.6 on the FIBA rankings and have the NBA-level inside combination of Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas. Canada though are only No.23, even though they have multiple NBA players including Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray and Tristan Thompson.

Australia are not in their best condition either. The country's No.1 player Ben Simmons has not decided whether he will play or not at the World Cup. Exum has been suffering from a knee injury which might cost him attendance at the event.

Though he has not had as much time as the other three players with the Jazz, Neto still feels excited about the World Cup. He believes that Brazil are in a good group and can count on a lot of young promising players.

They are in Group F with Greece, New Zealand and Montenegro. Though Brazil have several NBA players like Neto and Cristiano Felicio, it won't be easy for them to compete with Greece who are led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, New Zealand with Steven Adams, and Montenegro with Nikola Vucevic.