Before the start of the FIBA World Cup, France were expected to be a major contender for the title, but they eventually got eliminated in the competition’s group stage.
Rudy Gobert, the only NBA All-Star on their roster, was placed at the helm of the squad, expected to lead them to the top. However, the Wolves center had many struggles, especially in the first two contests were he only hit a total of 17 points.
Now that the international tournament is in the past for him, the star big man explained why he believes scoring in FIBA competitions is harder than in the NBA.
“In FIBA game, you have to think even more, look around even more,” he stated. “It’s still harder to score in the FIBA game.”
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) September 3, 2023
During the World Cup, Gobert said how much he’s enjoyed watching his Minnesota teammates represent their own nations, and is convinced that this will benefit them entering the upcoming campaign with the Timberwolves.
“I think all of us as a group coming back this year,” he said. “I think that all the things we went through last year… it’s going to pay dividends this season. Half the team plays in the World Cup. I’m really happy about that, seeing guys representing their countries. And I think that the international basketball experience is truly going to help our team too.”
As we are less than a month away from his franchise’s training camp, he can’t help but share his excitement.
“I’m really excited,” the French center added. “Now I’m out of the World Cup so I can really focus on having the best season I can have.”
Gobert admitted that there are a lot of changes that need to be made if they are to exceed last season’s achievements.
“It was a lot of adjustments to make,” he acknowledged. “Outside the court and on the court obviously. Joining a new organization. Joining a new fanbase. Going to a new place. Getting out my comfort zone a bit.”
Gobert expressed which factors prevented the Timberwolves from reaching the NBA Finals this past season
The Minnesota squad ended the 2022-23 regular season with a 42-30 record, and qualified to the playoffs. However, they were eliminated 4-1 in the first round by none other than the Denver Nuggets, the current NBA champions.
“But I think it was a great year we had,” Gobert shared. “We didn’t go as far as we wanted to go but we were resilient. We had a lot of injuries and a lot of things that didn’t go our way. But we kept fighting. I liked the mindset that we had. Especially in the playoffs. And we fought.”
The French big man is convinced that if Karl Anthony-Towns, Anthony Edwards and himself can stay healthy all next season, they have a real chance at the title.
“I think we have the potential to be really really good,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a good training camp. Build good habits.I think we have the potential to be a top two defensive team. And I don’t need to talk about how talented we are offensively. If we come in with the mindset of doing whatever it takes to have the team win and holding each other accountable while doing that, I think we’re going to have a surprisingly really good year.”
Source: Basketball Insider