Finland Rumors

Point guard Petteri Koponen took the floor hoping for a showing that would convince the critics Finland deserved its FIBA wild card for something other than the raucous band of traveling fans it could bring to the World Cup or its ties to the big money of Rovio and their Angry Birds franchise. Koponen and his pals wound up running straight into a pack of Angry Yanks and their buzzsaw D. “Maybe they’re missing some great players, but for sure these players want to show how great they are, too,” Koponen told ESPN.com just before making the much longer walk to his team bus. “They want to show the whole world they are the next generation, and they’re going to be the next superstars.”
Irrespective of the quality of the foe that got smoked 114-55 and forced into 31 turnovers while mustering just five assists. Finland looked every bit the lowest-ranked invite via wild card in the history of this event — 39th worldwide in FIBA’s latest rankings — but the way Team USA lasered right in and immediately embraced the challenge to defend with a greater ferocity than past Team USAs could only impress the bosses. “The ball pressure was great,” Thibodeau said. “Challenging shots, finishing our defense, guys being tied together … it was terrific.”
The U.S. held Finland without a basket in the second quarter, opening defense of its title with a 114-55 romp Saturday in the Basketball World Cup. Silencing the Finns in the second quarter on the scoreboard and in the stands, where their rabid fans filled an entire side of the arena, the Americans allowed just a pair of free throws in the period, outscoring their overmatched opponents 29-2 to open a 60-18 advantage.
Madrid will announce EuroBasket 2015 hosts on September 8. Croatia, France, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Israel and Turkey are on the list of possible host countries. The Board of FIBA Europe decided to relocate 2015 EuroBasket from Ukraine. The decision has been officially announced earlier. The situation in Ukraine has not changed drastically in the last months so the decision seemed inevitable.
But the situation was complicated because Gooden played for Team USA in a tournament in Brazil in 2000 while attending Kansas and he had never applied for dual citizenship before. He waited until this spring to begin the paperwork process — he recalled starting on it during the Wizards’ first-round playoff series victory over the Bulls — because he held out hope of representing the United States again.
In a recent phone interview, Gooden explained that he grew up with his father, Andrew, in Oakland, Calif., but made summer-long trips to Finland every two years to spend time with his mother’s family. He roamed his grandparents’ farm — situated about four hours north of the Finnish capital of Helsinki — milking cows, hunting, fishing, and tending to chicken coops. The biennial visits left an impression on Gooden, who identifies as Finnish. “Half of my family is still over there and I communicate with them all the time,” said Gooden, whose father met Lear while playing professional basketball in Finland. “So it’s like I have time spent there. It’s not like I’m doing this because I just happen to be half-Finnish. No, I really actually have ties to Finland and the culture.”
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Drew Gooden will not be able to represent Finland in the upcoming FIBA World Cup because his application for dual citizenship will not be cleared in time for the tournament, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The Wizards big man, whose mother is Finnish, was not on the 12-man roster Finland submitted Wednesday for the competition, according to reports out of Finland. The tournament will begin Aug. 30 in Spain. Finland’s first game will be against the United States.
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Drew Gooden was born in Oakland, went to college in Kansas, and has made a living playing for 10 NBA franchises across the United States. Now the Wizards forward plans on extending his footprint overseas at the end of the month when he suits up for Finland in the FIBA World Cup, according to a person with knowledge of Gooden’s intentions. Gooden, 32, is eligible to play for Finland because his mother is Finnish.
The Finns, meanwhile, have announced a 26-strong preliminary squad for this summer. Finland preliminary squad for FIBA Baskeball World Cup: Roope Ahonen, Joonas Caven, Samuel Haanpaa, Shawn Huff, Antti Kanervo, Ville Kaunisto, Mikko Koivisto, Petteri Koponen, Tuukka Kotti, Gerald Lee Jr, Antero Lehto, Carl Lindbom, Oskar Michelsen, Alex Murphy, Erik Murphy, Kiummo Muurinen, Vesa Makalainen, Hanno Mottola, Antto Nikkarinen, Antti Nikkila, Matti Nuutinen, Anton Odabasi, Julius Rajala, Teemu Rannikko, Sasu Salin and Samuli Vanttaja.
Traditional powers Brazil, Turkey and Greece were selected, as was Finland, a bid that came with some measure of controversy because the Finnish bid was backed by Rovio — the company behind the hugely popular “Angry Birds” video game franchise — pledging to advertise for the tournament if its home country received one of the four wild-card spots. “I don’t think so,” Teletovic said when asked if reasons outside of basketball should affect which teams qualify. “I think it should be deserved. I think they should look at the past five or six years, who is making good results, who is playing and who has always been fair, not which players do they have and media and market coverage.”
Amid various Internet reports indicting Lakers forward Ron Artest plans to play for a Finland professional basketball team, agent David Bauman said they aren’t true and are nothing more than a “publicity stunt.” “I’m his agent and nothing has come across my desk,” Bauman said. “Although Ron has asked me to explore all options over in Europe in the event of a prolonged lockout, there are several legal and business considerations that have to be addressed. The biggest one involves insurance. None of those have been addressed and I don’t even know who this guy claiming to have an agreement is. Final thing is what if the league has a lockout for say two weeks and then end up getting a deal. It becomes a moot point.”
“Finland’s top league Korisliiga will witness some serious NBA talent in September 2011, when Los Angeles Lakers forward/multipersonality Ron Artest will join league newcomer LoKoKo Loimaa. “The 31-year old Artest has three years left in his Lakers contract, but that doesn’t seem to bother LoKoKo sports director Aleksi Valavuori, who backs up the rumor in Tuesday’s Ilta-Sanomat newspaper.
Petteri Koponen’s bid to be fit for Finland’s EuroBasket qualifying campaign has ended after he was forced to have another operation. Koponen was attempting to battle back from a stress fracture in his foot suffered in April, and spoke optimistically about his chances of returning earlier this week. However, that schedule has now been abandoned. “The bone in Peter’s leg is improving with the rehabilitation, and it has been in line with expectations,” said team doctor Aleksi Kallioniemi. “But Peter has had a small routine operation aimed at preventing a recurrence of the same injury.