The Kings don’t play basketball for a couple more weeks, but another up-and-coming team will take the court Sunday at Golden 1 Center.
Team Mexico City is preparing for the second annual FIBA 3x3 International Cup, which is being hosted by the Kings in Sacramento on Sunday. The team features two of the four players from Mexico’s most recent men’s 3x3 National Team: Jorge Perez and Julio Ruiz. The new additions this year are Gabriel Gonzalez and Pablo Garcia.
Ruiz is 26. Gonzalez is 24. They understand half of their roster is relatively young compared to the rest of the 11 teams in the tournament. But by no means are they intimidated.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Bay Area and California sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
Instead, they look at a team like the Kings and draw inspiration from what was accomplished in Sacramento during the 2022-23 NBA season.
“It’s a young team, they have the talent to develop,” Alan Padilla, who is helping coach Mexico City in the tournament, told NBC Sports California in Spanish. “I think that identifies with us a lot too because we have a lot of young talent. There’s a lot of potential and career within us, so I think us and the Kings are kind of alike.
“We’re a young team developing.”
Perez is a first-time participant in the event, but he’s looking forward to the competition.
More than anything, though, the 37-year-old is excited to represent his country.
“We have had a great run here in Mexico and different international events, representing Mexico in some tournaments," Perez said in Spanish. "Throughout it all we have encountered great players, great rivals, such as the Miami selection team and Omaha. We are excited that this is a high-level point where all teams are competing for the championship. The fact that we have a good strategy and game is going to help.
“Honestly, another thing that I enjoy, that I get excited about, is that there’s a lot of people out there from Mexico who ask us when are we playing, where can we buy tickets. With that energy, that they are waiting for us on Sunday, makes us excited.”
Mexican pride is worldwide, and there's nothing like seeing those vivid green, white and red colors wherever you go.
“What I'm most excited about is representing our country in the United States," Padilla said. "We’re all excited, but it gives us a responsibility to be able to do a good job for Mexico in this tournament.”
Though neither Perez nor Padilla have been to Sacramento before this weekend, they are looking forward to learning about the city, and encourage all fans -- especially their "Paisanos" to attend the event.
"I’ve been to California but I don’t know Sacramento. It’s going to be my first time," Luiz said. "I’m very excited to play in the arena. If you allow me, I’m inviting all my [Mexican people] to Sacramento to come to support us this Sunday. From my understanding, tickets are free. It would give me a lot of energy and pride to see my [Mexican people]."
The Kings are ready to take last season's success a step further in the 2023-24 season, and even from 2,330 miles away, they are inspiring those around the world to do the same.
Fans can claim their free tickets here.