Wait, that’s Rok Stipcevic? Filip Brala/ZadarSport
There’s at least one NBA player on many of the rosters of the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, so there are plenty of names out there familiar to American basketball fans. But for most of us stateside, this will be one of our few exposures to the best basketball players the rest of the world has to offer.
Judging by a lot of the comments here at Daily Thunder, there are plenty of people out there who know more about international basketball leagues than I do. I don’t want to pretend that the foreign players toil in obscurity, it’s just that I have no idea who most of them are. Thorough research is for professionals, so to save time let’s just look at the guys who have the coolest names.
Introducing the 2010 FIBA World Championship All-Name Team, featuring a three-guard lineup:
Vladimir Geronimo, G, Angola
Who he sounds like: A communist American Indian leader, I guess. He could have his own Soviet-style propaganda poster gazing into the radiant future, but mix in a little American Plains hardass. And how cool would that sound just to hear him introduce himself? “Hi, I’m Vladimir Geronimo.” You would expect him to have a bold signature too, I’d think.
Who he really is: A 25 percent shooter from inside the arc in the 2008 Beijing Olympics who plays for Primerio de Agosto, an Angolan club. And that’s about all that’s relevant I could find about Vladimir.
Rok Stipcevic, G, Croatia
Who he sounds like: A Brock Lesnar-looking dude with a beating stick and a bad attitude. A guy named Rok probably won’t think twice about pounding your skull in for fun, and probably doesn’t think once about much anyway. He probably got held back a grade.
Who he really is: A downright waifish, by basketball standards, guard for KK Cibona in the Croatian league. The 6-0 guard averaged 13 points and four dimes in a previous Adriatic League stint.
Kinidinnin Konate, G, Ivory Coast
Who he sounds like: A Secretary-General of the United Nations. It just sounds regal, like he is wise and someone to be respected. It would really fit in well with some of the other super-cool names that Secretaries-General had in the past: Trygve Lie, Dag Hammarskjold, U Thant and Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
Who he really is: He’s good for about 10 ppg with three boards and an assist or two in African Championship tournaments. The CIV coach says he’s an athletic player, which compensates for a relative lack of size at 6-2. His coach also compares him to Solo Diabate, and really, that explains it all.
Mika Vukona, F, New Zealand
Who he sounds like: Not a he, but a she — a Russian model in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Let’s go with blond, long legs, not a lot of swimsuit and a thick accent. I’ll take it. I’ll take two, actually, if possible.
Who he really is: A 6-6, Fiji-born power forward with a square jaw and (presumably) a thick accent. I liked my idea better, personally.
Olu Famutimi, F, Canada
Who he sounds like: A lineman or linebacker in the Pac-10. He sounds like one of the guys with Pacific Islander heritage with a ton of hair coming out of the back of his helmet, Troy Polamalu style. If someone told you that some guy named Olu Famutimi was going to be a first round pick out of Oregon next year, you’d be thinking NFL.
Who he really is: A former Arkansas Razorback who currently plays in Turkey. He’ll obviously have a bit of an advantage over a lot of other players since he’ll be familiar with the Turkish arenas, fans, food and all the rest. But he’ll be at a disadvantage because he plays for Canada.