Five Utah Jazz players now focused on FIBA World Cup

“How ’Bout This Jazz” newsletter: Jordan Clarkson, Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, Kelly Olynyk, and Simone Fontecchio will all start playing next month. Plus, the newest guy’s connection to an old one.

After going 1-2 in the Salt Lake City Summer League and 4-1 in Las Vegas, what’s next for the Utah Jazz?

For fans, it might be continued debate about whether Cam Whitmore should have been one of the team’s draft picks, at either No. 9 or No. 16.

As for the players …

Some will be taking a little time off, while others now turn their attention to — well, more basketball.

Up next on the hoops calendar: The 2023 FIBA World Cup. The 32-nation tournament will get underway on Aug. 25 and conclude Sept. 10, with games taking place in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia.

And the Jazz will be well represented, with five of their players donning the jerseys of five different countries.

Shooting guard Jordan Clarkson, one of the only Filipino-Americans in the NBA, and who just agreed to a renegotiated-and-extended deal to remain in Utah, will be playing for the host nation. He has become something of a national hero in the country where his maternal grandmother, Marcelina Tullao, was born.

The Philippines will open against the Dominican Republic on Aug. 25 at 6 a.m. MT.

All-Star forward and Most Improved Player Lauri Markkanen, fresh off a stint of compulsory military service, will once again be representing his native Finland. Last year, right after discovering he’d been traded to the Jazz as part of the Donovan Mitchell deal, Markkanen led the Susijengi to an unexpected berth in the quarterfinals of EuroBasket.

At the World Cup, Finland will play in one of the tournament’s opening games against an Australian team featuring former Utah Jazz players Joe Ingles and Dante Exum, on Aug. 25 at 2 a.m. MT.

Walker Kessler initially figured to be a part of the Select squad that would serve as a tune-up for Team USA, but he instead was added to the main roster. After a strong first season that resulted in him being a Rookie of the Year finalist and an All-Rookie First Team honoree, the gregarious, self-described nerd will now be part of the United States’ cadre of big men.

Team USA will open against New Zealand on Aug. 26, with tipoff set for 6:40 a.m. MT.

Kelly Olynyk, who became both a key veteran voice in the locker room as well as an effective passing hub and 3-point shooting threat from his frontcourt position following his arrival in the Bojan Bogdanovic trade, will once again be representing his native Canada.

The Canadians will be playing the last game of the opening day, taking on France (and No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama, plus former Jazz center Rudy Gobert) on Aug. 25 at 7:30 a.m. MT.

And finally, forward Simone Fontecchio, who had an up-and-down NBA campaign and struggled to consistently crack rookie head coach Will Hardy’s rotation, is set to play for his home country, Italy.

The Italians will be facing Angola on Aug. 25 at 2 a.m. MT.

Group A features Angola, Dominican Republic, Italy, and Philippines. Clarkson and Fontecchio will face one another on Aug. 27 at 6 a.m. MT.

Group B consists of China, Puerto Rico, Serbia, and South Sudan.

Group C is Greece (including Giannis Antetokounmpo), Jordan, New Zealand, and the United States.

Group D has Egypt, Lithuania, Mexico, and Montenegro.

Group E entails Australia, Finland, Germany, and Japan.

Group F includes Cape Verde, Georgia, Slovenia (with Luka Doncic), and Venezuela.

Group G is comprised of Brazil, Iran, Ivory Coast, and Spain.

Group H involves Canada, France, Latvia, and Lebanon.

A Jazz-Turkey connection

No, Enes Kanter is not involved.

A day after signing with the Jazz, center Ömer Yurtseven was introduced to the media, and was asked about his relationship with fellow Turk and former Jazz center Mehmet Okur, who has spent some time working with the 25-year-old.

Has Memo already told him all about Utah?

“We have talked a lot about overall basketball and some of the stuff that he accomplished here, but never specifically about me coming here, et cetera,” said Yurtseven. “But I’m looking forward to chatting up with him when I go to the national team.”