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July 2022
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All in the family at FIBA Basketball U17 World Cup 2022

MALAGA (Spain) -Zaccharie Risacher, Nic Book and DJ Wagner all came to the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2022 having received special advice from their support systems to help them in Spain - insight from family members who know exactly what they are going through.

Risacher played a major role in getting France to the Semi-Finals, picking up 14 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists in a tough win over Slovenia. The forward  knows he will have his father to talk to about how he performed in the tight showdown against an underdog opponent. 

"My parents have told me since I was young just to do my best on the court and enjoy playing the game," Risacher said of his advice he received before the tournament from his father Stephane Risarcher - a 2000 Olympic silver medallist with the French national team. "After the game I have a conversation with my dad and he gives me advice and helps me, and that helps me to be better."

Nic Book's father Ed Book (No. 13) playing in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2002 Semi-Finals

The New Zealand captain Book also can look to his father Ed Book and know the feedback is coming from a legendary figure in the country's basketball.

"He said just go hard every game and give it everything you got. Don't leave anything on the court. If you give everything, you can definitely be proud at the end of the day," said Nic Book, whose father helped the Tall Blacks famously reach the Semi-Finals of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2002 and also played at the 2004 Olympics.

Wagner, for his part, has two important figures in his family he can look to for basketball insight. His father Dajuan Wagner played parts of four seasons in the NBA while his grandfather Milt Wagner played parts of two seasons in the NBA, including winning an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1988.

"He told me just to have fun, just go out there and do what I love to do. Just have fun and work hard," Wagner said about what his father told him before the tournament. 

Those are just three of many players in Spain who have significant family connections in the sports world.

Florent Pietrus (upper left) watches his son Illan Pietrus in Malaga

Two of Risarcher's France teammates have others in the family to approach if they need help. Illan Pietrus is the son of long-time France international Florent Pietrus, who played at two Olympics and three FIBA Basketball World Cups and won bronze in 2014 and EuroBasket 2013 winner as well as taking silver at the FIBA EuroBasket 2011.  And Alexandre Sarr's older brother is Olivier Sarr, who played this past season with the Phoenix Suns in the NBA.

Florent Pietrus' first EuroBasket was in 2003 and France lost in the Semi-Finals to Lithuania and  Mindaugas Zukauskas, who played at two Olympics and two World Cups and whose son Deividas Zukauskas is part of the Lithuania team in Malaga.

Claudia Langarita (No. 14) at FIBA U16 Women's European Championship 2019

The host Spanish team also has family connections as Lucas Langarita's mother is Patricia Hernandez Arencibia, who teamed up with Betty Cebrian, Wonny Geuer and Blanca Ares to take fifth place in the 1992 Olympics in women's basketball.  And Langarita's 2003-born sister Claudia Langarita claimed bronze at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship 2019.

Many other players in Malaga get sports advice from their family even though it might not be directly basketball related.

Spanish big man Aday Mara's mother Angelia Gomez played for the Spanish volleyball national team and won six Spanish league titles as well as silver in the Champions League.

Rocco Zikarsky and his father, former Olympic swimming medallist Bjorn Zikarsky

Rocco Zikarsky used to swim and took after his father Bjorn Zikarsky, who won an Olympic bronze medalist in the 4x100m freestyle event of the 1996 Summer Games for his native Germany.

USA talent Koa Peat meanwhile has a lot of American football players in his family. His father Todd Peat Sr. played for St. Louis/Arizona and Los Angeles In the NFL and his brother Andrus Peat plays in the NFL now for New Orleans. Koa's other brothers Todd Jr. and Cassius both played collegiate football and his sisters Maya and Leilani both played collegiate basketball.

American teammate Sean Stewart also has sports bloodlines as his father Michael Stewart had an eight-year career in the NBA and his grandfather Mike Stewart played collegiately in the United States before playing overseas for eight years.

And the 2022 U17 World Cup taking place in Spain has a special meaning for Karter Knox  and his family as his brother Kevin Knox was part of the USA team that took the title in 2016 in Malaga.

"He told me to be locked in. A lot of people are trying to knock off USA of course. If you stay locked in with the team, you'll win the gold medal like he did. They were locked in and won the gold medal," Kartner said of the advice he received.

And Knox can't wait to introduce another U17 World Cup gold medal into the family, adding: "They would be proud and excited."

And Karter and Kevin Knox could really break down what happened in the big event - just like those with family sports connections in Malaga.