As NBA stars are pulling out of the FIBA World Cup in droves, one player is hanging in there strong.
New Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari will play for Italy in a month, despite undergoing an appendectomy on Saturday night.
The Italian Basketball Federation announced the procedure on Sunday morning, and he’s expected to re-join his team at practice in two weeks. He has already missed the Trentino Cup and will have to bow out of the Verona Tournament, but the FIBA World Cup doesn’t tip off until Aug. 31.
Gallinari is not the only NBA player to miss time due to an appendectomy recently. Toronto Raptors swingman OG Anunoby underwent the procedure in April and was expected to miss two weeks, but complications forced him out of the entire playoffs.
Gallinari, who turns 31 on Thursday, will be a crucial part of Italy’s quest to make the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Seven teams — including just two from Europe — will qualify during the 2019 World Cup, while the final four spots will be determined next July during a qualifying tournament. The host nation of Japan earned an automatic bid.
Italy has not qualified for the last three summer games but did win bronze at the 2003 FIBA European Championship. They also feature San Antonio Spurs sharpshooter Marco Bellinelli, as well as former NBA-ers Luigi Datome and Alessandro Gentile.
Barring any extenuating circumstances, Gallinari should be a safe bet to be ready to join the Thunder when their training camp starts later in September. He will be a major contributor after landing in OKC in the Paul George trade. He averaged a career-best 19.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for the Los Angeles Clippers last season.
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