It was expected to be a pretty eventful showing for current and former Hawaii men’s basketball players in the FIBA World Cup, which got underway in Spain as of Saturday.
Present-day Rainbow Warrior Isaac Fotu is playing for New Zealand’s Tall Blacks, recent ‘Bow Vander Joaquim is off with Angola and Jared Dillinger is with the Philippines again.
Three people representing one school is pretty significant, considering most players in the 24-team competition did not play college ball in the United States. The institution I found the most players from was Washington State with four.
Unfortunately, Dillinger was dropped from Gilas Pilipinas’ final 12-man roster just before the tournament. He will watch the remainder of the competition in Spain as an alternate. It’s a disappointing turn of events for the Philippine Basketball Association veteran, who was amped up to represent his second home again.
That leaves Fotu and Joaquim. Both played bench roles with their respective teams in tune-ups leading up to the main competition, and that’s stayed the course so far.
Both players had pretty solid first games Saturday, then dropped off a bit on Day 2 on Sunday.
Up next for Fotu and the Tall Blacks is a big one — Team USA in an ESPN2-televised contest at 5:30 a.m. (HST) on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Joaquim and Angola will play Mexico.
UPDATE: Here was Fotu’s take, via message, about playing Team USA: “It’ll be fun to play against guys you watch all the time, no one expects us to win so there’s no pressure we’re just going to go out there and play.”
Isaac Fotu, New Zealand —
Game 1 vs. Turkey, 76-73 loss: 8 pts, 4 reb, 3-7 FG, 16 min
Game 2 vs. Dominican Republic, 76-63 loss: 2 pts, 2 reb, 1 TO, 1-3 FG, 0-1 FT, 10 min
Vander Joaquim, Angola —
Game 1 vs. South Korea, 80-69 win: 6 pts, 7 reb, 2-5 FG, 1 blk, 3 TO, 17 min
Game 2 vs. Lithuania, 75-62 loss: 2 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast, 1-5 FG, 0-2 FT, 13 min
Each team is guaranteed three more games before they either advance to the knockout stage or are eliminated in group play. At least two wins are required to make it out of the group.