The Minnesota Timberwolves recently announced that they will have five members of their team (both players and coaches) participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to start next month.
Guard Josh Okogie will represent Nigeria, forward Juancho Hernangómez and guard Ricky Rubio will represent Spain, and guard Leandro Bolmaro will play for Argentina while Timberwolves assistant coach Pablo Prigioni will serve as an assistant coach on the Argentinian National Team. The four players headed to Tokyo mark the most the Timberwolves have sent to a single Olympic game (three in both 2012 and 1992).
“We’re thrilled for Josh, Juancho, Ricky, Leandro and Pablo to represent their countries and the Minnesota Timberwolves on the world’s biggest stage,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas. “They all have put in so much work to get to this moment and we can’t wait to cheer them on.”
Okogie will be making his Olympic debut with Team Nigeria after competing with D’Tigers at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China. In five games at the World Cup, Okogie averaged 12.6 points on 42.9% shooting, 3.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game. The Lagos, Nigeria native wrapped up his third season with the Timberwolves where he saw action in 59 games and averaged 5.4 points on 40.2% shooting, 2.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. This will mark the third-ever Olympics for Team Nigeria.
Glad to announce that I’ll be joining the Nigerian National team in the Olympics this year in Tokyo! pic.twitter.com/5zId0IDyoe— Josh Okogie (@CallMe_NonStop) June 29, 2021
Hernangómez will also debut at the Olympics after being a member of the senior Spanish National Team since 2017. He was a member of the Gold-medal-winning team at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China where in eight games, he averaged 10.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.0 steals per contest. Hernangómez finished his fifth NBA season in 2020-21, second with the Timberwolves and averaged 7.2 points on 43.5% shooting and 3.9 rebounds per game.
A mainstay on the Spanish National Team, Rubio returns to the Olympics for the third time. His first Olympic appearance came in 2008 in Beijing, where at 17 years old, he became the youngest player to ever participate in a gold-medal game. Most recently at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, Rubio was named the World Cup MVP after leading Spain to gold and averaging 16.4 points on 43.6% shooting, 4.6 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game.
The reigning WORLD CHAMPS are headed to Tokyo pic.twitter.com/f7twLS2F3Y— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) June 28, 2021
As for our guy Bolmaro — he will see his first Senior National Team action for Argentina in his debut Olympics in Tokyo after most recently competing for Argentina’s Under-19 team at the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Greece. He wrapped up his second season with FC Barcelona’s primary team where he capped off a stellar season by winning the Spanish league championship and being named Liga ACB’s “Jugador Más Espectacular” – the League’s Most Spectacular Player. Bolmaro joined a list of three current NBA players to be awarded Most Spectacular Player in ACB play, including Rubio, who received the honor in 2009-10. The Las Varillas, Argentina native averaged 6.4 points and 1.8 assists per game.
Prigioni will serve as an assistant coach for the Argentine National Team after having an illustrious career for the senior team, including winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and finishing fourth in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The Río Tercero, Córdoba, Argentina native will return to Minnesota for a third season in 2021-22 after being named an assistant coach for the Timberwolves during the summer of 2019, becoming the team’s offensive coordinator. He also led the club to the championship game of the 2019 NBA Las Vegas Summer League. Prigioni spent the 2018-19 season as an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets. Prior to the Nets, he enjoyed a 20-year playing career that featured stops both overseas and in the NBA.
Representing Minnesota and El Alma Argentina in Tokyo…— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) June 28, 2021
As for the Minnesota Lynx, they announced early last week their list of Olympic representatives, including two players (Napheesa Collier and Sylvia Fowles) and one assistant coach (Cheryl Reeve). This will be the sixth-straight Olympics that the Lynx will have at least one player representing them (Seimone Augustus in 2008, 2012, and 2016; Maya Moore in 2012 and 2016; Katie Smith in 2000, 2004, and 2008; and Lindsay Whalen in 2012 and 2016).
The addition of Collier to Team USA is extra impressive as she will be the youngest player on this year’s roster (24-years old). As for Fowles, this will be her fourth-straight Olympic games, having also won gold in 2008, 2012, and 2016.
The Opening Ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (it’s still so weird that they are officially using 2020 instead of 2021) will be held on July 23, 2021 from 5:55am to 10:00am CST. Having the Olympics back in our lives is already great enough (especially for a big Olympic fan like myself), but the addition of multiple Lynx and Wolves representatives should make everything that much sweeter.