The FIBA World Cup has gotten underway. Check out the current Chicago Bulls players participating, as well as former Bulls, division opponents, as well as interesting stories that may be new to fans in the States.
Dante Exum- Australia
Drafted 5th overall by the Utah Jazz, Dante Exum is someone who should be reciting Tupac Shakur’s “All Eyes on Me” throughout this tournament. Being somewhat of an enigmatic player (google him) he will have plenty to prove during the tournament. Good luck getting too much of a glimpse, though. Thus far even in friendlies, he has not started. Chalk up another mark in the mystery column for Exum. Are the Boomers playing this one close to the chest on purpose? Only time will tell, but take a look at some of his youtube footage and it doesn’t take long to see, the kid can flat out ball.
Omer Asik- Turkey
If it weren’t for Houston’s worthless poison pill in 2012, Asik may still be in a Bulls uniform. Although speaking as an unselfish fan, it’s probably a good thing for the big Turk that he’s moved on. Had he stayed with the Bulls he’d still be in a backup role. Whereas with the Pelicans, his current squad, he has the opportunity to showcase his gifts beside perhaps the best up and coming player the NBA has to offer in Anthony “The Brow” Davis. It will be fun to watch him play against his new teammate in Davis, and his old one in Rose. Today, USA beat Turkey today 98-77. Asik finished with 6 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Erik Murphy- Finland
Murphy was a second round pick out of Florida for the Bulls in 2013. However, he was cut that same season and now plays for the rival Cleveland Cavaliers. His father was a standout at Boston College and a former NBA player. As for his mother— she’s a former Finnish national basketball star. Of the American born basketball players currently suiting up for international squads, this one makes the most sense.
Pau Gasol- Spain
For the most part, Bulls fans love the acquisition of Pau Gasol. Anything beats hearing Carlos Boozer scream “GIMME DAT SH*T” every time he pulls down a board, right? A whopping seven times a game or so Bulls fans were reminded of the “monster” they had lurking down low… But, the rainbow shots were fun! Geesh, that guy was a clown.
Gasol is without a doubt an upgrade, but he is getting up there in age and it remains to be seen if he will be available and/or productive for 82 games. This tournament will be as good an indicator as any.
Derrick Rose- USA
Need I say more? Last game Rose played 22 minutes (most on the squad) and finished with 12 points. Today against the Turks he finished with 2 points in 17 minutes. Night and day— but, keep an eye on him (and his knees of course) as his consistency should improve. And for the optimist in all of us keep watching this crossover dunk! Filth.
Giannis Antetokounmpo- Greece
The “Greek Freak” plays in the Bulls division and is perhaps the most exciting player outside of the USA roster to keep an eye on. Still under 20 years of age, Antetokounmpo is a shade under 7 feet and about the closest thing the Yanks will see to an opposing Anthony Davis in this tournament… $100 bucks to the person who can either speak or spell his name five times in a row without looking at it.
Andray Blatche- Phillippines
He wasn’t given an opportunity to play for the USA, or apparently any other. So he went to the first team that would have him. That is seemingly the only reason as to why he’s suiting up to play for the Filipinos. And, you know what? Good for him and the Philippines. Blatche now has a stage to showcase his talents in hopes of a new contract and the Gilas get a huge position upgrade. The Phillippines are a nation steeped in basketball culture. This is a win-win for everybody.
Hanno Motolla- Finland
After helping The Utah Utes to the NCAA National Championship game in an eventual loss to the Kentucky Wildcats– the Atlanta Hawks selected Mottola in the second round of the 2000 draft. Thanks to that, he was the first Finnish national to ever be drafted or play in the NBA. Nowadays, he’s 37 and not in the NBA. But, his cousin Tuomo Ruutu still plays for the New Jersey Devils. Tuomo’s older brother Jarkko also played in the NHL.
Kevin Seraphin- France
Drafted in the first round by the Bulls in 2010, Seraphin was traded along with Kirk Hinrich to the Washington Wizards for the rights to Vladimir Veremeenko. Veremeenko is somewhere in the world hanging out with Carmen San Diego. Since that trade Seraphin has developed into a decent role player, having his best year in 2013 where he averaged 9.1 ppg and 4.4 rpg. In the FIBA World Cup he is playing for France who are considered to be one of the top five teams in the tournament.
Dario Saric- Croatia
The Croation national was selected by the Orlando Magic with the 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft but was traded to the 76ers for Elfrid Payton. However, after signing a three year deal with his current club in Turkey, Saric won’t be eligible to play in the NBA for at least another two years. But, at just 20 years old he is perhaps the most important player for the Croatians. At 6’10 he is considered to be a top international prospect and a player to watch for the future– much the same as current Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic.
Cameron Bairstow- Australia
The bruising Boomer center was drafted by the Bulls in the second round this year to back up reigning DPOY Joakim Noah. The second consecutive New Mexico Lobo to be drafted by the Bulls (Tony Snell) should fit nicely on a team that focuses on defensive intensity and toughness. Die-hard Bulls fans should certainly be watching to see how he performs in this tournament.
Honorable Mention- Pooh Jeter- Ukraine
For his name, naturalization, and all around awesomeness.
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