Another day, another set of stars withdrawing from the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Kristaps Porzingis announced he would not be participating in this year’s FIBA World Cup after consulting with doctors from both the Boston Celtics and the Latvian men’s national basketball team. Porzingis has reportedly been dealing with plantar fasciitis, a tricky injury that is usually assessed on a case-to-case basis. The 28-year old already has quite the injury history, which was further complicated with long recoveries due to his size.

Jamal Murray also made the decision to sit out the 2023 FIBA World Cup after joining the Canadian men’s national basketball team’s training camp and assessing where he was at from a physical standpoint. 

Murray’s case too, is understandable given he had recently played until the NBA Finals, where he and the Denver Nuggets won their first title. Moreover, the 26-year old had just played his first full season since he tore the ACL in his left knee.

Both Prozingis and Murray join a list of NBA players who have decided to sit out the 2023 FIBA World Cup, with NBA Finals MVP and Murray’s teammate Nikola Jokic, two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and highly-touted rookie Victor Wenbanyama. To be fair to them, they are looking out for their health as they have either been playing basketball non-stop or in Wenbanyama’s case managing their health in preparation for the NBA. Aside from that, the reality is that basketball in the Olympics takes precedence over the FIBA World Cup and if it was the Olympics taking place later this month, these players may have thought twice about skipping.

If anything, the participation of these players in the training camps of their respective national teams just to see if they can give it a go shows their commitment. They themselves are very much willing to go all out for their countries, but the same can’t be said for their bodies. Unfortunately, in the FIBA World Cup, or any major international tournament for that matter, teams are rarely complete and healthy as well, so it’s not much of an excuse (unless you’re Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes).   

The absence of these players obviously invites questions on how the quality of play will be affected. It depends, particularly on those who actually play the games. When players succumb to injuries, it’s usually the next man up that picks up the slack. For some teams, like Team USA and Canada, it’s an easy task, but for the likes of Latvia and Greece, losing a focal point of the squad requires some adjustments.

Timing is also critical when it comes to instances like this. A player becoming unavailable months before the tournament is much different than losing a player with weeks to spare. National teams can easily adjust when the former happens, as it gives players time to step up.

All things considered, Canada will still boast a contending lineup, while Latvia will have to dig deep. We can’t count the latter out, though, just because they don’t have the NBA players the Canadians have in their pool. The Latvians have gone 9-0 in their last nine games, which included wins over Greece, Turkey, and the Dominican Republic.

Never mind that these victories came in qualifying games and friendlies; the wins themselves prove that Latvia can hang with some of the seasoned teams in the competition. Apart from that, the Latvians are building chemistry and getting the necessary game reps that could prove crucial against their group mates in Group H in Canada, France, and Lebanon. If things fall into place, they could advance to the knockout rounds in Manila.

Jamal Murray and Kristaps Porzingis may not join their respective national teams for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, but their teams in Canada and Latvia continue to march on and with their efforts, could make waves when the festivities kick off. After all, bilog ang bola.