The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 is poised to be an extraordinary international basketball extravaganza, with teams from around the world set to grace the courts across three host countries: Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines. From August 25 to September 10, a total of 32 teams will compete for glory.
However, despite the grandeur of the event, this edition might fall short in star power due to the absence of some of the game’s most notable players. Among those who will miss the tournament are Jose Alvarado, Jamal Murray, Ricky Rubio, Kostas Sloukas, and Vasilije Micic.
The Missing Stars: A Blow to the World Cup
The list of absentees reads like a who’s who of international basketball talent. The reasons for their absence vary from injuries to NBA commitments and even the need for mental and physical recovery.
Jose Alvarado | Puerto Rico
Regrettably, we won’t have the opportunity to witness the swift, surprise steals executed by the New Orleans Pelicans guard in the upcoming World Cup. Jose ‘Grand Theft’ Alvarado experienced a stress reaction in his right tibia that prematurely concluded his 2022-23 season in March. The accomplished Latino basketball talent is currently in the process of recovering from this setback.
Consequently, the Pelicans made the decision to exclude Alvarado from both the training camp and the World Cup event itself. Puerto Rico’s general manager, Carlos Arroyo, elucidated that “the tibia injury in his right leg hindered his recovery over the summer. His team conducted an MRI last week, revealing that his injury has not yet fully healed.”
Jamal Murray | Canada
Following an 18-month absence due to a torn ACL, the Denver Nuggets luminary made his return to the court in 2022, playing an instrumental role in guiding the franchise to its inaugural NBA championship, alongside the formidable Nikola Jokic.
The arduous journey to secure the coveted NBA title, combined with a previous significant injury, emerged as the two pivotal factors that contributed to Jamal Murray’s notable omission from the World Cup roster. As Murray entered training camp, his foremost intention was to gauge how his body would respond after a taxing and demanding season, assessing his physical capability to compete at the elite level mandated for the World Cup.
Ricky Rubio | Spain
As Spain defends its FIBA World Cup title, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Spanish NT guard announced he is taking a break from basketball to improve on his mental health. Four years ago, World Cup MVP Rubio guided Spain to the title with an 8-0 record. He scored 20 points in Spain’s 2019 World Cup final win over Argentina.
The 32-year-old guard played 12 NBA seasons with Minnesota, Utah, Phoenix, and Cleveland.Seven medals, including three golds, were won in 10 major FIBA competitions with the Spanish NT.
Kostas Sloukas | Greece
It will be the first summer without national team activity for the famous Greek guard. Since 2006, the veteran playmaker has played with the national team at young or senior levels or in training camp (2012).
Sloukas, 33, needs relaxation before the EuroLeague season, which will be special given he moved from Olympiacos to archrivals Panathinaikos this winter. Sloukas had one of his best seasons, averaging 11.0 points, 2.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 14.7 PIR in over 23 minutes.
Vasilije Micic | Serbia
Micic signed a three-year, $23.5 million contract with Oklahoma City Thunder this offseason, with a team option for the third year. The former Anadolu Efes star won’t play in the summer FIBA tournament for that reason. He will use the opportunity to prepare for his NBA debut, like many European players do.
According to Serbian NT coach Svetislav Pesic, Micic suffers shoulder pain. Micic joins the Thunder after winning EuroLeague MVP in 2021 and leading Anadolu Efes to two titles in 2021 and 2022. Micic averaged 16.0 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.2 rebounds in almost 31 minutes in 31 EuroLeague games this season.
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Impact on the World Cup
The absence of these players undoubtedly affects the star power and competitiveness of the FIBA World Cup. While the tournament will still feature talented players from around the world, the allure of watching international basketball’s finest showcase their skills will be slightly diminished.
Team USA, for instance, won’t have its strongest squad due to various player withdrawals. Despite this, the team remains a favorite for winning gold, with its young and talented roster under the guidance of coach Steve Kerr.
As the 2023 FIBA World Cup approaches, basketball enthusiasts are eagerly anticipating the performance of participating teams, especially given the absence of some of the sport’s top talents. The tournament presents a clear opportunity for lesser-known players to seize the spotlight and establish themselves on the international stage.
While the absence of these star players is unfortunate, the FIBA World Cup continues to be a celebration of basketball’s global appeal and the remarkable talent found in various nations. As fans tune in to watch the games, they will still be treated to awe-inspiring displays of skill, teamwork, and the competitive spirit that makes basketball a beloved sport worldwide.
Wrapping it Up!
The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 is just around the corner, taking place in Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines from August 25 to September 10. With 32 teams battling for victory, excitement is palpable in the global basketball community. However, the tournament faces a setback as key players like Jose Alvarado, Jamal Murray, Ricky Rubio, Kostas Sloukas, and Vasilije Micic will be absent. Each player’s distinct circumstances, such as injuries and mental health priorities, have led to their non-participation. Despite their absence, the World Cup remains a showcase of basketball’s universal allure and diverse talent.