LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NBA’s decision to invite a pair of international teams to the Summer League showed promise, even as it also demonstrated the competitive challenges facing the host team for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
China struggled to beat NBA-affiliated squads made up largely of rookies or relatively inexperienced pros, landing in Friday’s consolation round after dropping three of its first four games.
Croatia, which will not be participating in the World Cup, was the other international team joining the fray. Croatia also failed to qualify for the Summer League’s eight-team playoff tournament after dropping its first four games. It also played its finale Friday.
The FIBA World Cup will be played Aug. 31-Sept. 15. So when the NBA decided to add a pair of international teams, China seized an opportunity for a tuneup.
China and Croatia could have anticipated Summer League competition to be tough for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that the NBA brand of basketball is officiated differently than the international game and has certain court dimensions — including the 3-point line — that are different from courts used in the Olympics and World Cup.
The question was how much they’d improve. On that front, signs were more encouraging.
China was routed by 41 in its opener against Miami, but broke through with an 84-80 victory over Charlotte in its third game.
Croatia lost each of its first two games by 16 points before losing by just eight in their third and fourth games.
There were some standout individual performances as well.
China’s Guo Ailun, a 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 16 points in his first two games, when he shot 50 percent. His highlights included a crossover dribble that sent Charlotte’s Cody Martin sprawling.
Zhou Qi, China’s 7-1 center and a former Houston Rocket, averaged 11.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks through his first four contests. He complemented his expected above-the-rim play with several 3-pointers.
Croatia’s Zeljko Sakic, a 6-foot-8 forward who plays professionally in Poland, averaged 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in his first four games.
Those were timely performances, considering the plethora of NBA front office personnel on hand.
76ERS 108, RAPTORS 102
P.J. Dozier, who spent last season on a two-way contract with the Boston Celtics, hit seven 3-pointers and finished with 22 points in 24 minutes to pace Philadelphia in its victory over Toronto.
Haywood Highsmith added 16 points, and Mairal Shayock had 14 points for the 76ers (2-3).
Lindell Wigginton, an undrafted rookie out of Iowa State, scored 26 points for the Raptors (2-3). Chris Boucher continued his torrid Summer League performance with 24 points. He has averaged better than 22 points.
Terance Davis added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Dewan Hernandez scored 15 points for Toronto.
Philly connected on 14 of 31 3-point attempts. Toronto went just 6 of 27 from deep.
LAKERS 88, WARRIORS 87
Jordan Caroline, an undrafted rookie out of Nevada, scored 20 points to lift Los Angeles to its first Summer League triumph.
Jaron Johnson, who has spent several recent pro seasons overseas in France, Israel and Australia, scored 19 points for the Lakers (1-4), and Dakota Mathias added 10 points.
Kevin McClain scored 24 points for Golden State (3-2), hitting five 3s, including one from several feet behind the arc at the halftime horn.
Travis Wear scored 16 points, but missed a 3 from the corner that could have won the game as time expired.
Ebuka Izundu added 14 points and 11 rebounds, highlighted by his thunderous two-handed follow dunk.