The Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup that the country will co-host could suffer another blow in terms of star power.
After the United States bare a pool scarred by the absence of its top stars, another NBA-certified crowd-shooter is in danger of missing out on the global showcase after Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had surgery on his left knee, the team confirmed on Wednesday. .
The operation has left the basketball star’s appearance for Greece in August’s World Cup in doubt.
“He had routine surgery on his left knee and it went really well,” Bucks head coach Adrian Griffin said Wednesday.
“Everything went according to plan and we expect him to come back ready to participate in training camp,” he added.
The Bucks are expected to start their camp in early to mid-September with the World Cup kicking off Aug. 25 and running until Sept. 10.
Earlier, French teen star and San Antonio Spurs first overall pick Victor Wembanyama also announced that he would not be joining France in the tournament.
Even Gilas Pilipinas hasn’t been spared the injury bug.
Barangay Ginebra goalkeeper Scottie Thompson, one of the most popular names in the national pool, is nursing a fractured metacarpal in his right hand.
Thompson is currently with Gilas Pilipinas in Kaunas, Lithuania, where the team has played a series of friendlies.
Scottie hurts his hand
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas unveiled the reigning Philippine Basketball Association Most Valuable Player (MVP) status on Thursday.
“Scottie Thompson suffered a metacarpal fracture while training here in Kaunas, Lithuania. Thompson was immediately taken to hospital for an X-ray where the fracture was confirmed,” the federation wrote.
The federation did not discuss Thompson’s availability for the World Cup, but said the 29-year-old guard would consult a specialist to determine the timeline for his recovery when the team returns to Manila.
Thompson has more than a month to recover before the World Cup opener, where the Philippines are grouped in Group A with Angola, the Dominican Republic and Italy.
Thompson saw action in six games in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers, where he averaged 6.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.
Greece in trouble
Athletic have quoted a league source as saying Antetokounmpo’s availability for Greece is “in question” after what he described as surgery to “clean up the loose cartilage in his left knee”.
The two-time NBA MVP suffered a back injury in Game 1 of the Bucks’ first-round playoffs against the Miami Heat and did not return until Game 4. The Bucks, seeded No. 1 at the East, were bowled in five by Miami in the best-of-seven series.
The World Cup will also take place in Japan and Indonesia, but any teams that emerge from the group stage will fly to Manila for the knockout stage.
Greece were drawn in Group C along with the United States, New Zealand and Jordan.
Losing Antetokounmpo would be a blow to Greece’s tournament hopes.
He was the top scorer in last year’s EuroBasket tournament, averaging 29.3 points, despite his team going out in the round of 16 against the Czech Republic.
Antetokounmpo was part of Greece’s squad at the 2019 World Cup which failed to make it out of the group stage.
The 28-year-old older brother and Bucks teammate Thanasis is also part of the Greece squad along with his younger brother Kostas, who plays for Greek club Panathinaikos.
—REPORTS BY LANCE AGCAOILI AND AFP
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