Two players in the Warriors system are competing in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, and both are moving on to the second round.
Lester Quinones already has advanced after the Dominican Republic beat Angola on Tuesday morning to go a perfect 3-0 in group play. On Wednesday morning, Gui Santos joined him thanks to an 89-77 win against Ivory Coast. Brazil went 2-1 in group play, with wins against Iran and Ivory Coast, and one 21-point loss to Spain.
Santos was a solid contributor in all three games off the bench for Brazil, continuing his strong summer.
While Quinones failed to make a single shot in the first of his two group play games, Santos had the exact opposite performance. The 21-year-old forward was a perfect 3-of-3 shooting from the field going into his third game, including 2 of 2 from deep and 4 of 5 from the free-throw line. He played 15 minutes and scored four points, along with four rebounds and three assists in Brazil’s opener against Iran before seeing his playing time cut to nine minutes against Spain, yet managed to score seven points.
Santos' playing time received a major boost Wednesday against Ivory Coast, and he took advantage. Santos again scored seven points, though his perfect shooting chart took a slight hit as Santos went 2 of 7 overall, 1 of 4 on 3-pointers and made both of his two free-throw attempts. His first made basket was a three in the final minute of the first half to give Brazil a seven-point lead, and Santos’ lone 2-pointer came from him starting in the left corner, running hard off a screen and finishing at the hole through contact.
Santos in 23 minutes also had six rebounds and one assist. The one assist would have brought a smile to Steve Kerr, with the ball barely hitting Santos’ hands in the right corner before instantly finding Georginho De Paula for three points behind the right wing.
Golden State Warriors
Of all the Warriors’ young players who participated in summer league, Santos might have had the best showing. After adding 15 pounds of muscle and coming in at 220 pounds, Santos averaged 17.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and shot 51.5 percent overall in six games between Sacramento and Las Vegas. Now on the big stage of the World Cup, Santos has averaged 15.6 minutes, 6.0 points and 3.7 rebounds with 50/40/85.7 shooting splits.
The last remaining of the Warriors’ three-player 2022 draft class, Santos is expected to spend next season playing for Golden State’s Santa Cruz G League affiliate again. From everything that I’ve been told, Santos cannot be eligible for a two-way deal because of his contract with Brazilian club Minas, which runs through the 2023-24 season. The only way the Warriors can buy him out is for a spot on the 15-man roster, and that isn’t expected to be the case this season.
Now the road gets even tougher for Brazil. They face powerhouse Canada on Friday morning, and then Latvia, who upset France to advance, on Sunday morning.
Quinones and the Dominican Republic will play Puerto Rico on Friday morning and Serbia on Sunday morning.
Team USA, led by Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, won all three of its group stage games and now will play Montenegro on Friday morning and Lithuania on Sunday morning.