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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Grant Hill started working on the USA Basketball roster for this summer’s World Cup many months ago, long before the first invitations were extended.
The result, he hopes, will make it worth all that effort.
USA Basketball formally unveiled the 12-player World Cup roster on Thursday, with no changes to the group that had made commitments in recent weeks. All 12 have signed their agreements to play, a necessary step before the roster could officially be revealed.
The final list: New York teammates Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart, Brooklyn teammates Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, Orlando’s Paolo Banchero, Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards, Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton, New Orleans’ Brandon Ingram, Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr., Utah’s Walker Kessler, Milwaukee’s Bobby Portis and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Austin Reaves.
“I think I speak for all of us when I say that we’re very pleased,” Hill, the team’s managing director, said Thursday in a telephone interview. “And we were very thoughtful, very deliberate, very intentional about putting together the pieces to the puzzle. It was not easy, but I think we got the desired result. And we’re very pleased with the roster, the versatility, the complementary parts. So, we’ve crossed that hurdle. And now we’ve got a bigger hurdle to attempt to cross as a collective unit.”
Players have been getting the international basketball — slightly different from the NBA ball — to work out with in recent weeks, so they can familiarize themselves with that element of the FIBA game before arriving in Las Vegas for the start of a weeklong training camp on Aug. 2.
The team will be coached by Golden State’s Steve Kerr, assisted by Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Tyronn Lue and Gonzaga’s Mark Few. The coaching staff will gather to continue making plans in Las Vegas early next week; also expected to be part of that gathering is Jim Boylen, who coached the teams of G League and international players that went through a 12-game schedule to qualify the U.S. for the World Cup.
“My staff and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to coach such talented, team-oriented players,” Kerr said. “I’m confident this group will represent our country well, with effort, talent and a commitment to winning together. We look forward to competing for a gold medal in the World Cup later this summer.”
Of the 12 players, nine have at least some previous USA Basketball experience and six — Ingram (24.7), Edwards (24.6), Brunson (24.0), Haliburton (20.7), Bridges (20.1) and Banchero (20.0) — averaged at least 20 points per game in the NBA last season.
But none has been part of a World Cup or Olympics before.
“We have all new guys, all rookies,” Hill said. “And we’re going to have to really work and just prepare them, build them up as we get them ready for the international game and a little different style of play.”
The Americans will play five warmup games before the World Cup: on Aug. 7 against Puerto Rico in Las Vegas, Aug. 12 against Slovenia and Aug. 13 against Spain in Spain, then Aug. 18 against Greece and Aug. 20 against Germany at Abu Dhabi.
The World Cup runs from Aug. 25 through Sept. 10 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. The Americans will be in Manila for the entirety of their stay in the tournament and have group-stage games against New Zealand on Aug. 26, Greece on Aug. 28 and Jordan on Aug. 30.
“I think we have really good guard play that translates on the international stage,” Hill said. “We have shooters, we have athletes, guys who can defend, who can get out in transition. We have some guys that are versatile, who can play multiple positions, particularly the power forward position. I think what you want in an international game is guys who have all the tools necessary in the toolkit, because you’re going to see different styles of play.”
The tournament is the primary qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The U.S. — which finished only seventh at the 2019 World Cup in China, but still good enough to earn a spot into the Tokyo Olympics — must finish as the best or second-best team from the Americas Region at the World Cup to qualify automatically for Paris, where the Americans will seek a fifth consecutive Olympic title.
The top two World Cup finishers from Europe and the Americas, as well as one from Africa, Asia and Oceania, will earn berths for Paris.
AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports