Rudy Gay was a late addition to Team USA, and in fact, he didn’t even join the squad until after the weeklong training camp in Las Vegas in late July. But in a brief telephone chat from Spain, the Kings forward said he welcomed the chance to compete in another FIBA World Cup partly because he enjoyed playing on Mike Krzyzewski’s 2010 national team four years ago. Now 28 - and the oldest American on a roster that includes Kings teammate DeMarcus Cousins - Gay also embraced the notion of staying in shape via organized practices and games, the overseas travel notwithstanding. He said he deliberately has shed about five pounds and plans to play the upcoming training camp at 245.
“It’s been good to stay active, start to get ready for the season,” he said. “Obviously playing for your country is special, and being coached by a different coach, who runs a different system, is a good experience. This can only help me be a better leader, which will help our team back home. With DeMarcus here, too, we’re starting to understand each other a little better, so this has been good for a lot of reasons.”
Gay, who exercised his $19 million option for the final year of his contract, was accompanied to Spain by his wife, Ecko, and the couple’s four-month-old son, Clinton.
But about that bummer of an ending: Team USA plays Lithuania tomorrow in the semifinals, but with France stunning heavily-favored Spain earlier today in Madrid, the much-anticipated gold medal finale Sunday against a host country team featuring Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Ricky Rubio, among others, failed to materialize. Spain’s massive frontline was one of the main reasons Andre Drummond and Mason Plumlee were given roster spots despite the presence of Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried and Cousins, who secured his role as the first big man off the bench. I spoke with Gay before Spain’s demise, but with all the pre-tournament buildup to a Spain-USA finale, he is probably as disappointed as most of the folks in the Barcelona-Madrid corridor.