Like many other NBA stars, the Finnish pivot of the Utah Jazz, Lauri Markkanen confirmed in an interview with Hoopshype that he will be starting in the 2023 World Cup. Last week, it was Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns (2.11 m, 27 years old) who was seriously considering playing with the Dominican team at the event.
Lauri Markkanen was dazzling at EuroBasket (27.9 points including 41% three-pointers and 91% free throws, 8.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals on average) to help Finland take the 7th place.
This season, the Finn has considerably boosted his stats with the Jazz: 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds against 14.8 points and 5.7 rebounds last season with Cleveland.
That was a big thing for us. I think we were the first country other than the host country to qualify. That’s our first-time basketball performance-wise qualifying. It was a big thing for us. I always want to represent the country, and I’m looking forward to it.
Back with the Dominican Republic 10 years later
“This summer I want to go and play with the Dominican team. That would be awesome. I’m trying to figure it out right now,” Karl-Anthony Towns said in the podcast hosted by his Timberwolves teammate Austin Rivers. This return to the draft would be a small revolution since the interior has not played with the Dominican Republic since 2013, during the Americup. Drafted first overall by Minnesota in 2015, he has yet to play for his country since he has been in the NBA.
Yet, that hasn’t stopped the Dominican Republic from qualifying for the last three World Cup finals in 2014, 2019 – where they made it through the first group stage – and 2023. In the last qualification window, it notably beat Panama and Argentina, in an epic duel.
Photo : FIBA