The FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament for the Americas is now over. The 56th-ranked Bohemian team beat the 4th-ranked Argentinian team in the final, 82-75. Two of the players on the Bohemian team are from the Phoenix Suns. It was the second time in a week that the Bahamas beat Argentina. Most people were watching Deandre Ayton, but Eric Gordon stole the show.
Eric Gordon signed a two-year deal with the Suns this offseason. Throughout the game, he did a great job controlling his game on both sides. He scored 27 points, including six of seven three-pointers. He also had 3 boards and 3 steals, which made up the rest of his stats.
Argentina was playing in front of their home crowd in Santiago del Estero. They were up by 6 points in the middle of the fourth quarter, and everything was going in their favor. Enter Eric Gordon, who has been around for a long time. As the last few minutes got closer, Gordon stood up. With 1:32 left, Gordon hit a three-pointer, putting the Argentinian team down 75-74 and making the crowd quiet. On the next play, as time was running out, Gordon made another three-point shot to put the Bahamas up 80-75 and pretty much end the game.
“It takes a lot to come into an opponent’s gym, in their country, in a hostile environment,” Bahamas head coach and Golden State Warriors assistant Chris DeMarco stated, “and be as resilient as we were tonight.”
Eric Gordon has played for Team USA before. In 2010, he was on the team that won gold at the FIBA World Cup. Since his mother is Czech, he asked to join the team during the off-season. FIBA agreed to his request, and the addition of him, Deandre Ayton, and the guard for the Indiana Pacers, Buddy Hield, helped the Bahamas win the title.
“It means a lot. It’s great to do this for the Bahamas. My mom was born and raised there,” Gordon stated. “I’m just glad we get to advance with these guys.”
The game was exciting to watch and showed how fun international basketball can be. The way the game is played, with each team getting two fewer timeouts and no TV timeouts to get in the way, makes it much more pressing, fast-paced, and rhythmic. Eric Gordon gained from this because he was in the groove when the game got harder.
From the point of view of the Phoenix Suns, both Gordon and Ayton’s play throughout the playoffs has to be impressive. Ayton averaged 15.5 points and 13.8 rebounds in the four games he played. He shot 56.6% and got 13.8 rebounds on average. He scored 10 points and grabbed 21 rebounds, which sealed the win. If his goal is to change how people see him, winning the Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament is a great way to start. Give me 15 and 14 every game all season, and the Suns will win a championship.
Gordon, on the other hand, was the best player on this team for the whole competition. He scored an average of 20.8 points per game and hit 65% from deep. He took charge and helped his team win when the event was on the line.
The exciting thing is that Phoenix needs this kind of guy in the last five minutes of a game.
If you look at what the Suns were like last year, you’ll see that they were a team that had no personality in the most important parts of games because of all the injuries. In close games in 2021–22, the Suns were the best team in history, going 33–9 and having a +107 point difference (the Bulls were second with a +56). Last season, the team went backward and was not very good. Phoenix is 19th in the NBA with a 17-19 record and a -19 point difference. Because of injuries, changes in the lineup, and moves in the middle of the season. These are good reasons why the team didn’t do as well when it mattered.
A lot has been said about who will be the fifth starter for the Phoenix Suns when the regular season starts, but Gordon’s play in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament shows who should be the fifth starter. Josh Okogie, Keita Bates-Diop, or even Yuta Watanabe can be your starting player. All of them have different skills that could help the team, from defense to offense to shooting.
But if the game is on the line, Gordon should be in it.
He showed against Argentina that he could be cold-blooded on both ends of the court, and his unlimited range makes it hard for the other team’s defense to match up with him. Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant, and Deandre Ayton will create a lot of pressure, which will give Eric Gordon a chance to feast from the perimeter if he is in a closing group.
Gordon had a busy season playing for the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers. Unfortunately, he did not have many opportunities to perform well during crucial moments in the game. In particular, the Rockets did not give him many chances to shine in the game’s final few minutes. During the 29 clutch games and 91 clutch minutes that Gordon played for the Rockets, the team only managed to score a league-low 6.2 points. For the Clippers, Gordon played for 25.7 of the team’s 109 clutch minutes.
In short, Gordon played in 41.4% of his team’s important minutes in 2022-23. This measure is based on more than one thing. He is putting together a roster. The fact that young talent is being made in Houston. Situations in the game (being up or down and vice versa). It’s important to note that this number went up to 68.9% for the Clippers in the playoffs.
The Suns have a lot of guys who can help them win close games in the fourth quarter. Like their starting five, they will be able to play in different positions and find ways to take advantage of their opponent’s weaknesses. One of these ways is through EG. He has been around for a long time, showing that he can come through when his team needs it most. Seeing him do the same thing in purple and orange will be cool.