Egypt's New Yorker Gardner dreaming of NBA future
MANILA (Philippines) - Patrick Gardner had a solid game against Montenegro, flirting with a double-double with 13 points and 8 rebounds, showing glimpses of his potential that earned him a training camp invite with the Brooklyn Nets.
So if there's a lefty 2.11m (6ft 11in) tower not hesitant to shoot six threes in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game, all while coming off of Summer League experience with the Miami Heat, and before his Nets' adventure, one question is inevitable.
Who is Patrick Gardner?
"I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO PLAY FOR THIS TEAM." - Gardner on representing Egypt
"I'm the new guy," he said with a smile, adjusting his bouncy hair so he has eye contact with everybody.
"My mom is Egyptian, she was raised in Egypt. My dad is American, he's got some Italian and Irish to him, I lived in New York my whole life, but I spent my summers in Egypt, and I've always wanted to play for this team."
The Egyptian New Yorker spent his college career with the Marist Red Foxes, averaging 19.1 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 38.3 percent from three-point range in 2022-23. Playing in the United States, language was not a problem.
Playing for Egypt, language isn't a problem either, because Patrick understands Arabic.
"I'm learning, I still can't speak fluently, but my mom and my teammates are teaching me."
Egypt are down to 0-2 after their first two games and cannot reach the Second Round. But those who have followed their national team around for years claim this is something new, something fresh, and there's plenty of reasons to be excited about the future.
"BEING HERE, IT'S UNREAL."
Firstly, because they aren't giving up, they are playing their hearts out for 40 minutes and trying to stay attached as long as possible. Secondly, because of the younger players - Patrick included - getting bigger roles.
And finally, because coach Roy Rana is at the helm, building a long term project.
One that should, and probably will, feature Gardner's southpaw swing from deep. Being a New Yorker and a lefty, he said he's enjoying seeing Jalen Brunson playing in the same Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippines, another reason why there's a spark in his eyes when he's speaking about being here in Manila.
"Being here, it's unreal. It's kind of like a dream come true, just to be around coaches and guys like this makes it even better."
One of those guys is Assem Marei. He's been the face of Egypt for the last decade, but now he's entering the latter stages of his career. Maybe it's time to pass on the long-haired torch.
"Assem is definitely a mentor to me. We were roommates for a few days, and I always ask him all sorts of questions. He's always giving me advice, and I like to look at what he does, especially in preparing for the games. Also what he does in workouts, because he's now in his 30s, and his longevity is something that I look up to. He's a really cool person," Gardner said.
As soon as the World Cup ends, Patrick will board the plane back to the United States, starting his professional career. He had a fine summer with the Miami Heat, now it's time to fight for his spot with the Brooklyn Nets.
"I was fortunate enough to get a training camp invite for the Nets, then depending how I do here and in general, hopefully I could just keep moving up from there. I think I'm gonna be with the G League team, but you never know what could happen, just got to be prepared for all options," he looked ahead.