FIBA Intercontinental Cup - Team in Focus: Austin Spurs
RIO DE JANEIRO - In the buildup to the FIBA Intercontinental Cup taking place in Rio de Janeiro from February 15-17, we take a look at each of the four participating teams.
Here, we profile the Austin Spurs, who take part after capturing the 2018 NBA G League Championship. Austin had a 32-18 regular season record and then capped a perfect 4-0 run in the Playoffs with a 2-0 sweep of Raptors 905 in the Finals.
Players to watch out for
Austin will take a talented roster to Rio. A standout for fans in Rio to keep an eye on will be Amida Brimah, a 6ft 10in (2.08m) center who is a lock down defender. The 24-year-old made the NBA G League All Defensive Team last season. He leads all players in blocks at 3.31 per contest during the current campaign, while also averaging 8.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 23.7 minutes through 32 games.
After seven years in the NBA, DeJuan Blair is now in his second season in the NBA G Leauge. He is averaging 6.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 12.4 minutes over 14 games with Austin.
Josh Huestis is coming off an injury and therefore has only played 11 games with the Austin Spurs this season. The 6ft 7in (2.01m) forward boasts NBA experience, having been with the the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2015 to 2018, during which time he also played for their G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue.
What they said about the FIBA Intercontinental Cup
"I think it's a great opportunity to get to compete against international competition and see the world. As much as it is a business trip, we're still excited to see the wonderful city of Rio de Janeiro." - Austin Spurs guard Jordan Green
Team's All-Time Greats
The Austin Spurs have served as a springboard to the NBA for many players. One that truly captured the imagination is Jonathon Simmons. He joined at the beginning of the 2013-14 season via Austin Spurs' local player tryouts (anyone could pay $150 to try out for the team) and spent two seasons with the team. He then signed an NBA contract with the San Antonio Spurs and now suits up for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Seven members of the current San Antonio Spurs roster spent time playing with the Austin Spurs. They are Davis Bertans, Lonnie Walker IV, Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, Drew Eubanks and Chimezie Metu. Walker and Metu have played with Austin this season while Eubanks is a two-way player.
Another well known name at Austin is its head coach, Blake Ahearn, who played a few games for the team during the 2008-09 season.
Aron Baynes (Australia), Boban Marjanovic (Serbia) and Davis Bertans (Latvia) each had stints with the Austin Spurs
Other current NBA players to have spent time on the Austin Spurs roster are Jaron Blossomgame (Cleveland Cavaliers), Julian Washburn (Memphis Grizzlies), Danny Green (Toronto Raptors), Kyle Anderson (Memphis Grizzlies), Boban Marjanovic (Los Angeles Clippers), Ryan Arcidiacono (Chicago Bulls), JaMychal Green (Memphis Grizzlies), Aron Baynes (Boston Celtics), Cory Joseph (Indiana Pacers) and Ian Mahinmi (Washington Wizards).
Notable international players who wore the Austin Spurs jersey are Argentina international Patricio Garino and French trio Livio Jean-Charles, Nando de Colo and Ian Mahinmi.
Last season was not the first taste of success for Austin. They were also G League champions in the 2011-12 campaign with a 33-17 regular season record and a 6-3 record in the Playoffs, where they beat the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the Finals.
During the 2015-16 season, Austin compiled a 30-20 record in the regular season and made it to the second round (Conference Finals) of the Playoffs where they lost to the D-Fenders.
The season before that, in 2014-15, they went 32-18 in the regular season and made it to the second round of the Playoffs before losing to eventual champions Santa Cruz Warriors.
So far this season, Austin have won just 15 of their 34 games so a change of scenery may be just what the doctor ordered.
If Austin win in Rio, they will be the first FIBA Intercontinental Cup champions from North America since 1974, when John Lucas led the Maryland Terrapins to the crown.