San Antonio Spurs: Marco Belinelli flashes inconsistency at FIBA World Cup
By Dylan Carter
Through five games at the FIBA World Cup, San Antonio Spurs sharpshooter Marco Belinelli showed the best and worst of his on-court capabilities.
As a staple of the Italian National Team, shooting guard Marco Belinelli put it all on the line to represent his country on the international stage. Along with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari, Belinelli was one of just two current NBA players to play for the Italian National Team.
Belinelli was also one of five current San Antonio Spurs to participate in the World Cup. The others include Patty Mills of Australia, Derrick White of the United States and Chimezie Metu of Nigeria with Mills and White reaching the Final Phase of the 2019 World Cup. Italy and Nigeria both qualified for the 2020 Olympics, but they’ve reached the end of the road in this year’s competition.
At 33-years-old, Belinelli averaged 15 points per game on 40 percent shooting from the field, 33.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc and 72 percent from the charity stripe. He put together an impressive succession of games to begin the competition before imploding against Spain in the second round. His statistics were widely swayed by his 3-of-16 shooting in Italy’s second and final loss of the tournament.
? Marco Belinelli (@marcobelinelli) led @Italbasket ??'s comeback to close the #FIBAWC with a sweet win!
Belinelli was the @TclCorporation Player of the Game from #PURITA with 27 points & 6 rebounds! #BornToLead pic.twitter.com/pUrUDbfCd3
— Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) September 8, 2019
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Like any stretch of games by Belinelli, there was a combination of good, bad and ugly in the mix. As a notoriously streaky shooter, there’s no telling when Belinelli is going to emerge for a barrage of triples, but he’s also prone to terribly inefficient shooting nights. This has become the norm for Marco – you take the good with the bad and hope for the best.
When Belinelli is on, he’s extremely difficult to stop. He closed out his FIBA playing slate with a 27-point explosion against Puerto Rico that saw him made 3-of-8 threes and 10-of-12 free throws. This was his highest scoring performance of the tournament and surpassed his season-high of 24 in the NBA last season.
Within the confines of head coach Gregg Popovich’s system, Belinelli can fulfill a vital role. Most recently, Ethan Farina discussed the idea of Belinelli joining the elusive 50-40-90 club. It’s a plausible concept, although Belinelli is slated for a downtick in minutes this season because of the Spurs’ emerging young core and intense depth as his position.
Belinelli’s performance in the World Cup proved once more that his boom-or-bust potential is through the roof. He’ll be a fun and helpful member of the core in San Antonio, but the team is better off without needing to rely on Beli to ensure victory.