Knicks’ Stash Pick Rokas Jokubaitis Impressive in Lithuania’s Loss to Serbia

Rokas Jokubaitis, Knicks

Getty Lithuani's Rokas Jokubaitis (L) shoots during the FIBA Basketball World Cup quarter-final match between Lithuania and Serbia at Mall of Asia Arena.

New York Knicks draft-and-stashed point guard Rokas Jokubaitis nearly had a double-double, but his solid effort was not enough to keep Lithuania’s magical run in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Two nights after taking down Team USA, Lithuania could not repeat against Serbia, who advanced to the semifinals with an 87-68 victory on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippines.

Jokubaitis finished with 13 points and a game-high nine assists, his personal best in the tournament. But Lithuania could not stop Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Bogdan Bognadovic, who erupted for 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting to lead Serbia.

Jokubaitis’ playmaking and scoring in the opening fueled another hot start for Lithuania, who led Serbia 16-10 midway. A five-point binge from Jokubaitis gave Lithuania their last taste of the lead, 25-22, before Serbia wrested control of the game in the second quarter.

Former Knicks players Ignas Brazdeikis (11 points) and Mindaugas Kuzminskas (6 points) were held to a combined 5-of-18 shooting from the field.

The 22-year-old Jokubaitis, averaging 12.8 points and 6.2 assists, will have one more game left to impress the Knicks against the loser of the Canada-Slovenia quarterfinal matchup.

Jokuabaitis was the 34th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and is set to continue playing for Barcelona in the Euroleague for one more season.

Jalen Brunson Believes Rokas Jokubaitis is NBA-Ready

After Team USA lost to Lithuania on Sunday, a European reporter asked Jalen Brunson if he thinks Jokubaitis can play in the NBA.

“Yeah, he’s a great player,” Brunson said after the loss. “I got a lot of respect for him. It’s just always great when you can play against players, against the world. They got a lot of talent everywhere.”

Jokubaitis, however, will not be afforded that opportunity next season as the Knicks are currently stacked at the backcourt, led by Brunson.

Jokubaitis stepped up against Brunson, producing nine points, a team-high six assists, three rebounds and one steal. The incumbent Knicks starting point guard finished with 14 points and a game-high seven assists.

Evan Fournier’s World Cup Run Ends on a Sour Note

Knicks disgruntled guard Evan Fournier‘s agonizing run in the World Cup came to an end over the weekend with another dud. But France survived his second straight two-point outing with a tough 87-77 victory against Cote d’Ivoire in their final game.

It was a disappointing finish for Fournier after averaging 21.6 points in France’s first three games.

Against Cote d’Ivoire, Fournier’s points came only at the free throw line as he missed all of his four field goal attempts. He was a team-worst minus-11 despite grabbing six rebounds and adding one steal and a block. He also committed two turnovers in 17 minutes.

Fournier heads back home with his NBA career in limbo as the Knicks have yet to find a new home for him. His uninspiring World Cup run does not help his case.

Before the World Cup, Fournier made it clear another season on the Knicks bench would be detrimental to his career.

“I would be shot [if I stay],” Fournier told  L’Equipe in July. “I’m going to be traded, it’s not possible otherwise. Or I’d be stuck, and so would they. They have several players with big contracts coming in. Unless they want to pay a crazy luxury tax… If I stayed, it would be a disaster basketball-wise for my career. I can manage a year without playing. Two… that would be terrible.”


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