Although pool play won’t get underway for another month, international teams are beginning to open training camps and start preparations for this summer’s EuroBasket tournament which runs from Aug. 31 through Sep. 17.
Spain, the favorites to take home the gold in Istanbul, began their training camp Saturday.
Spain’s roster is loaded with both NBA and international talent including Pau and Marc Gasol, Willy and Juancho Hernangomez, Sergio Rodriguez, Ricky Rubio and Alex Abrines. Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic announced Friday that he won’t play for Spain this summer with his NBA contract situation unresolved. Mirotic remains a restricted free agent and the Bulls can match any offer the forward receives on the open market.
For Hernangomez, who appeared in 62 games for the Nuggets during his rookie season and averaged 4.9 points on 45.1 percent shooting from the field and 40.7 percent from three, EuroBasket provides another opportunity for the 21-year-old to gain some valuable experience in high-level basketball situations prior to his sophomore season.
Hernangomez averaged 16.3 points on 37.5 percent shooting to go with 7.3 rebounds across three games with the Nuggets at the Las Vegas Summer League in July. The swingman played a featured role in Las Vegas as one of few roster players on Denver’s Summer League squad although he projects more as a complimentary one with the Nuggets moving forward. He played well but turned the ball over 12 times throughout those seven games including one seven-turnover performance against Houston.
With Spain, Hernangomez will return to that secondary-type role that he thrived in last season although he’s likely due for more minutes with the Nuggets after Danilo Gallinari signed with the Los Angeles Clippers this summer.
Spain will play in a number of exhibition matchups prior to their first official EuroBasket group game against Montenegro on Sep. 1.
Another name to watch at EuroBasket next month is Denver’s 49th overall draft pick Vlatko Cancar, a Slovenian national who made it on his country’s roster along with other exciting names like Luka Doncic, a candidate for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft and Miami’s Goran Dragic.
EuroBasket will be the first chance to see Cancar after Denver selected him in June and the 20-year-old could find himself in an important role next month.
Cancar is a long strider and capable shooter. The 6-foot-8 combo forward can pick-and-pop from the four spot and stays balanced on his jumper when hoisting threes in transition and in spot-up situations. He’s not very athletic but in 18.6 minutes per game last season, Cancar averaged 8.2 points and shot 40.7 percent from three in the Adriatic League for Mega Bemax, the same team Nikola Jokic rose to prominence with in 2015.
Cancar has been a staple on Slovenia’s national teams and made his FIBA debut with Slovenia’s U16’s in 2013.
Also on Slovenia’s roster is Anthony Randolph who played with the Nuggets from 2012-14 and has found success overseas. Randolph averaged roughly ten points and five rebounds in the EuroCup for Real Madrid last season.
Slovenia’s first group game is against Poland on Aug. 1.
Nuggets training camp, which will be held this fall at the University of Colorado – Boulder, typically gets underway during the last week of September.