This summer, some of the biggest names in the NBA will gather for a cultural event that only happens every few years. No, I’m not talking about “Space Jam 2” — I’m, of course, talking about the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.
The USA Basketball men’s national team won the 32-team international tournament in 2010 and 2014, but with the growing international presence in the NBA, they could see some serious competition this summer. One of the teams that will be hoping to dethrone Team USA in China is Germany, and two of the Lakers’ rookies, Isaac Bonga and Moe Wagner, will have the opportunity to represent their home country of Deutschland.
During his exit interview last week, Wagner, a native of Berlin, said that he would love to play for the German men’s basketball team, but that he hasn’t thought that far ahead into the future just yet.
“Honestly we haven’t really like set anything in stone up there. we talked about the past and my future. So national team is obviously something that I would love to do, but we’ll talk about that later. I’ll go home for a couple weeks, just recharge and see my family,” Wagner said.
Bonga, a native of Frankfurt, was a little less humble when talking about his chances of making the team, and that’s probably because he’s played for the senior team previously.
”First of all I’m probably just going to be here for the summer working on my game, and then... I’m definitely going to try out for them, I’m definitely going to make the roster and definitely going to play for them,” Bonga said.
Unfortunately, whether or not they represent their country might not be up to them. The FIBA Basketball World Cup starts on August 31 and ends on September 15. While that wouldn’t interfere with summer league, which will take up the first two weeks of July, or training camp, which usually tips off in late-September, the training staff might advise against letting Wagner and Bonga play overseas, especially with the way injuries hit the roster this past season. As second-year players with little leverage, Wagner and Bonga might have to concede.
Hopefully it doesn’t come to that and Lakers fans will be able to see the German Shaq and Kobe take on the best the basketball world has to offer.