The Nets were supposed to be active in FIBA World Cup Qualifiers this week, but the Nets traded Russia’s Timofey Mozgov and suggesting Argentine stash Juan Pablo Vaulet and Bosnian rookie Dzanan Musa sit out the tournament, only Bulgarian stash Aleksandar Vezenkov saw action in the multi-continent preps for the FIBA World Cup this weekend.
Vezenkov, a 6’9” forward, posted a double-double Tuesday in Bulgaria’s 81-75 loss to the Czech Republic, a game played in the Czech city of Pardubice. Vezenkov had an atypical bad shooting night, going 3-of-8 overall and 1-of-4 from deep for 11 points, but he also snared 10 rebounds, handed out three assists and blocked two shots.
Despite the loss, Bulgaria secured a place in the next round of the Qualifiers and will play six games in three series in September and November this year and February of 2019. A total of 32 teams will travel to China next summer for the World Cup.
The 22-year-old, taken at No. 57 in 2017, is between professional teams after having F.C. Barcelona decided against renewing his contract and paying him 100,000 euros to go away. Various rumors have him playing in Spain, Greece or Turkey next season. The Nets seemed to have little interest in bringing him over to the NBA and Bulgarian media suggested he’s uninterested in the G-League
Like the Nets 2018 pick, Rodions Kurucs, Barca shelved Vezenkov, believing it should focus its development efforts more on players who were likely to stick around the Spanish team. Kurucs, in fact, spoke to Brian Lewis Monday about how they survived while not getting playing time.
“Of course it was tough,” Kurucs told The Post. “You just have to keep practicing, doing your job, keep getting better every day and stay strong mentally; that’s the thing. There were a lot of people who helped me in that period, that’s how I survived.”
One was Vezenkov. At the time, neither realized they would both be the property of the Nets this summer.
“He’s a good guy, a nice guy. We spent a lot of time together because he didn’t play either last year so we spent a lot of time in the gym,” Kurucs said. “He’s a great guy, a good player. He taught me a lot of things on the court, off the court. We were good friends for sure, because we were always together. … Definitely his strong suit is the shot.”