Austin Spurs star DeJuan Blair hopes to face former teammates from San Lorenzo in Final
RIO DE JANEIRO (Brazil) - The FIBA Intercontinental Cup will provide a first-ever visit to South America for many of the players involved, but not Austin Spurs big man DeJuan Blair.
The 29-year-old has already had a taste of the continent. He traveled to Argentina last year to play professionally for a couple of months. As fate would have it, he suited up for San Lorenzo de Almagro, one of the other three teams competing at this weekend's event.
The experience was an eye-opener, not just in terms of living in a different country but by being exposed to Argentinian basketball.
"I remember there's great chemistry over there," Blair said to Eurohoops.net. "Great players, great coaches. It's going to be a lot of fun seeing my old teammates and everything. It's a great team, great organization, I liked it, I wish them the best, and hopefully, we see them in the Final."
For that to take place, Austin will need to beat Flamengo on Friday and San Lorenzo must defeat AEK. Otherwise, if Austin and San Lorenzo were to fall, the two sides would meet in Sunday's Third-Place Game.
If Blair makes the sort of eye-opening plays that have made him a fan favorite, Austin will have every chance of reaching the Final.
No matter what happens, the trip to Rio is going to be worth it, not just for Austin's players to see the city that hosted the 2016 Summer Games and to play on the Olympic basketball court, the Carioca 1, but also to experience everything that goes with visiting another country.
“It’s different," he said of the opportunity. "It’s new, obviously. I know there’s going to be a lot of people down there. It’s going to be a lot of fun ... we just have to live up to our expectations. We’re just going to play hard."
"I REMEMBER THERE'S GREAT CHEMISTRY OVER THERE (AT SAN LORENZO). IT'S A GREAT TEAM, GREAT ORGANIZATION, I LIKED IT, I WISH THEM THE BEST, AND HOPEFULLY, WE SEE THEM IN THE FINAL."
Blair stressed the importance of being good ambassadors at the FIBA Intercontinental Cup.
"It’s very important," he said, "just for our culture and organization. And the NBA alone."
As for Friday, Blair knows he's going to have his hands full. He'll go up against Anderson Varejao, the Brazil international who had a long career in the NBA. Anderson, 36, is now a leading light with Flamengo.
"I know him," he said with a smile. "He's one crafty big."