Ricky Rubio returns and 5 things to look out for at the FIBA Continental Cups Qualifiers 2024

15 Feb 2024


The road starts soon: on February 22nd, teams from around the world will start their journey to qualify for their respective Continental Cups. 

Qualifiers for the FIBA Asia Cup, FIBA EuroBasket 2025, FIBA AfroBasket and FIBA AmeriCup will tip off when Australia play Korea in Bendigo (7:30 AM GMT). 

Among the different storylines, read about Ricky Rubio’s anticipated return with Spain’s national team and five more things to look out for in the upcoming FIBA Continental Cups 2024/25 Qualifiers. All the action will be available to stream live and on demand on your favorite devices with a Courtside 1891 MAX pass. 


Ricky Rubio Returns 

There could not be better news for basketball fans worldwide. Legendary Spanish playmaker Ricky Rubio stunned the world of basketball in August 2023 as he decided to put his career on hold to focus on his mental health, effectively bidding farewell to a fantastic 12-year NBA tenure. 

As fans held their breath hoping for the Catalan to get better, Ricky kept working off the court, and signed for FC Barcelona at the start of February, the club he represented and with which he was crowned EuroLeague champion in 2010. 

Nobody would have expected, however, to see the creative playmaker on Sergio Scariolo’s sheet as the El Masnou native was called up for Spain’s first two games on the road to FIBA EuroBasket 2025. 

Sergio Scariolo, Spain national team’s coach, revealed Ricky Rubio gave him a call, telling him “Sentimentally, I would like my first official game to be with the national team because I feel a special bond with you, with the team, with my teammates. 

Rubio, who was only 18 when he collected his silver medal at the Bejing Olympics, has represented Spain since 2008. The Pabellón Príncipe Felipe in Zaragoza will be hosting a much-anticipated return as Spain take on Latvia, the team that knocked La ÑBA out of the 2023 FIBA World Cup after an incredible fourth-quarter comeback. 

Elfrid Payton and MCW suit up for the United States

With the NBA season still in full-fledge, Head Coach Dave Joerger could not count on many stars when he announced his 12-man roster for their FIBA AmeriCup 2025 Qualifiers against Cuba. 

Although none of these players are currently in the NBA, former lottery picks Elfrid Payton, Michael Carter-Williams and Stanley Johnson have been called up to take on Cuba. Both Elfrid Payton and Stanimal have some familiarity with the USA setup, having competed internationally at youth level. 

Payton is currently playing for the Indiana Mad Ants, averaging a double-double with 10 points and 12 assists per contest, while 2014 Rookie of the Year MCW is putting up 12.8 points and 6 assist for the Mexico City Capitanes, also in the G-League. 

With these cult players still hunting for an NBA future, entertainment is guaranteed as the United States gear up for a place in the FIBA AmeriCup 2025. 

Japan vs China clash at the Ariake Coliseum

A 22-man squad, including 10 of the heroes that clinched Olympics qualification for Japan at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, was called up by Tom Hovasse. China and Japan boast 33 combined podiums at the Asia Cup, and it will be extremely interesting to see how both teams match up. 

An already sold-out Ariake Coliseum will support the Akatsuki Faibu as they try to overcome a recent head-to-head struggle against China. Will Japan finally get the better of China after blowing a seven-point fourth quarter lead in their last meeting with Team Dragon? 

Vassilis Spanoulis’ debut as Greece Head Coach

2006 FIBA World Cup runner-up Vassilis Spanoulis, a living legend of the European game, is taking the wheel of a Greece team that had exited the 2023 FIBA World Cup with a sour taste in their mouths. 

New head coach Vassilis Spanoulis will be taking on Czechia, Great Britain, and Netherlands in Group F. Their campaign starts at the Peace and Friendship Stadium, in Pireaus, a stadium Vassilis Spanoulis has light up countless times during his magical career. 

He will be getting a warm reception to start his Greece tenure as the Επίσημη Αγαπημένη host Czechia, with FC Barcelona superstar Tomáš Satoranský keen to spoil the party. 

Italy v Türkiye

The Azzurri get back together after their quarter-final exit at the 2023 FIBA World Cup at the hand of the United States, after Lithuania “poked the bear” by administering Steve Kerr’s players their first defeat. Without captain Gigi Datome, retired at the FIBA World Cup, Gianmarco Pozzecco called a strong squad, with former NBA talents Nicoló Melli and former Golden State Warrior Niccolò Mannion being called up. 

Ergin Ataman, who coached Montepaschi Siena from 2001 to 2003, will travel back to Italy as part of the Türkiye setup. The 12 Giant Men can boast 7 EuroLeague players but will do without star guards Shane Larkin and Scottie Wilbekin, who failed to defend their absence from the 2023 FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament hosted by Türkiye in Istanbul.