Cool KAT adds ''fire'' to Dominican Republic World Cup campaign
MINNEAPOLIS (USA) - It's been a long wait for fans of the Dominican Republic, but NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns is ready to put on the national team jersey again.
Towns, aka "KAT", is planning on representing the country at this summer's FIBA Basketball World Cup, when the Quisqueya compete at the tournament for the third straight edition.
"This summer, I want to go and play with the Dominican team," Towns said on the The Ringer NBA Show podcast that's hosted by his Minnesota Timberwolves teammate, Austin Rivers.
"That would be cool. That would be fire. I'm trying to work that out right now."
The last time Towns suited up for the Dominicans was in 2013, at the FIBA AmeriCup.
Since then, he has gotten bigger, stronger and better overall. Towns has matured into one of the finest big men in the Western Conference with Minnesota, the team that selected him first overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.
The Dominicans have been hoping for, and waiting on Towns to return. Many view him as the missing piece for the national team.
With the 2.13m (7'0") power forward/center, the Dominicans may just go from a good, competitive unit to a very good team that may even challenge for a spot on the World Cup podium.
Towns first played for the Dominican Republic at the 2011 Centrobasket U17 Championship and with the senior team the following year, he featured for the first time at the Centrobasket Championship and then at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela.
That Dominican team, coached by John Calipari and led by Al Horford, nearly made it to the London Games but fell to Nigeria.
Towns returned the next year for the Jenaro "Tuto" Marchand Continental Cup and the AmeriCup. He has not suited up for the country since.
Even without Towns, the Dominican Republic have had memorable World Cup appearances. They advanced from the Group Phase at the 2014 event in Spain before falling to Slovenia in the Round of 16.
At the 2019 World Cup in China, the Dominican Republic beat Jordan and then stunned Germany to advance to the Second Round.
The team wrapped up a captivating Americas Qualifiers campaign for this year's World Cup in February, when it won games at Panama (93-67) and Argentina (79-75).
Among the talking points has been the emergence of Jean Montero, who had 22, 17 and 22 points in his last three outings against Venezuela, Panama and Argentina.
Towns' comments about playing at the World Cup has fueled excitement in the country.
Center Eloy Vargas and power forward Angel Delgado are outstanding players so the addition of Towns, who is not just strong inside but a good three-point shooter, would give the the team coached by Che Garcia a formidable frontcourt.
Towns, 27, missed nearly four months of action this season with a calf injury but started playing again on March 23 against Atlanta and had a memorable return with two game-winning free-throws just 3.6 seconds from the end. The Timberwolves won, 125-124.
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He followed up that 22-point outing with 14 points in a 99-96 victory over Golden State on Sunday. Minnesota are seventh in the Western Conference and just a half game behind the Warriors.
Towns is averaging 20.8 points and eight rebounds a game this season.