Sixers in Rio: New Teammates Saric, Rodriguez Square Off
The 2016 Summer Olympic Games started in earnest yesterday, with Australia’s surprising win over France kicking off the basketball tournament.
The 76ers have two players competing in the tournament, Dario Saric with Croatia and Sergio Rodriguez with Spain. Neither player has yet played a game with the 76ers, as Saric spent the last two seasons playing for Anadolu Efes in Turkey after being acquired by the Sixers in a draft-day trade in 2014, and Rodriguez was signed to a one-year contract this offseason out of the ACB in Spain.
The two new teammates will kick off their Olympic schedule tonight. Against each other.
Spain is the heavy favorite to win the Group B field, which doesn’t include the United States, having lost in the championship game to the United States in both 2008 and 2012, and having just won the 2015 FIBA EuroBasket gold medal.
Spain’s roster includes current NBA players Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon, and Nikola Mirotic, as well as some of Rodriguez’s former Real Madrid teammates, including Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Llull, and Guillermo Hernangomez.
Outside of the current NBA players listed above, Rodriguez, Fernandez, and Navarro have also played in the NBA, and Guillermo will play in the NBA this upcoming season for the New York Knicks. Spain’s roster would be even more stacked if Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka were available to play.
Saric won the most valuable player award in the qualifying tournament earlier this summer, which secured Croatia a spot in the Olympics. Saric averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game in the tournament. He will be joined by current NBA players Bojan Bogdanovic and Mario Hezonja,
With Spain’s depth at point guard, which includes Ricky Rubio and Jose Calderon also vying for minutes at the position, along with their superior talent level, overall depth, and experience, Saric will be asked to carry a much heavier burden for Croatia than Rodriguez will with Spain, giving Sixers fans a great opportunity to see what Saric can do.
The game is being aired at 6 PM eastern time, and will be broadcast on NBC.