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USA Basketball to play host to Puerto Rico in World Cup tuneup at Las Vegas

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USA Basketball has finalized its schedule of exhibition games leading into this summer’s FIBA World Cup, announcing Tuesday that it will open the five-game slate against Puerto Rico in Las Vegas on August 7.

It will be the only World Cup warmup game in the US for the Americans, a team that will be coached by Golden State’s Steve Kerr. His assistants are Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Tyronn Lue and Gonzaga’s Mark Few.

The roster of National Basketball Association (NBA) players is still being assembled.

“Puerto Rico, obviously, we’re familiar with them,” said Grant Hill, managing director of USA Basketball’s men’s national team. “We’ve competed in the World Cup qualifiers, although neither team had their full heavy roster, if you will, its strongest roster. But it’s an opportunity to throw our guys into the fire. The games, the exhibition games, the lead-up, we’re going to get a lot of basketball in us before we play for real. And that’s good.”

After the Puerto Rico game, the US will leave for Malaga, Spain, and games there against Slovenia on August 12 and Spain on August 13. The final two pre-World Cup games for the Americans will be held in Abu Dhabi, against Greece on August 18 and Germany on August 20.

From there, the Americans head to Manila, Philippines, where they will remain for the entirety of the World Cup. Half of the 32-team World Cup field will have group-stage games in Indonesia or Japan; the Americans are among the 16 that will open the tournament in the Philippines, which will also play host to the medal rounds.

The game against Puerto Rico will coincide with the end of the US team’s training camp in Las Vegas.

“Our preparations for the 2023 FIBA Men’s World Cup begin in Las Vegas and we are excited to return to a city that regularly and graciously welcomes USA Basketball,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball’s CEO.

The men’s national team played four exhibitions in Las Vegas in 2021 before the Tokyo Olympics, going 2-2 in those games. The Americans opened with losses to Nigeria and Australia before beating Argentina and Spain prior to departing for Tokyo.

“The Nigeria game was important,” Hill said. “It let everybody know that we can’t just show up.”

In Japan, the US won its fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal.

The US opens World Cup play against New Zealand on August 26, followed by group games against Greece on August 28 and Jordan on August 30. The tournament—one of the major qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympics—runs through September 10.

Image credits: AP

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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