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USA Basketball Prepping for Qualifiers Against Cuba and Mexico

   USA Basketball Prepping for Qualifiers Against Cuba and Mexico

November 26, 2021

usa basketball team

The last time USA Basketball laced them up for the World Cup was back in 2019 when they suffered their worst result ever by falling to France in the quarter-final matchup and then losing to Serbia in the classification game. The United States, along with perennial powerhouses Serbia, Russia, and China all failed to reach the semifinals, which was the first time in the tournament’s history that this had happened.

But things are looking up for the United States this time around as the initial team has recently been chosen and will make its debut with a game against Cuba on November 28th followed by a date with Mexico the following day. USA will then tip-off against Puerto Rico on February 24th, Mexico on February 27th, Puerto Rico on July 1st, and Cuba on July 4th in the opening qualifying round.
The team assembled for the qualifying rounds consists of former NBA players along with G-League players who are hoping for a shot with an NBA franchise at some point.

Former Chicago Bulls head coach, Jim Boylen, is the man in charge along with assistants Othella Harrington and Ty Ellis. Boylen has recently announced his selections and the roster is as follows: Brian Bowen II, Josh Gray, Shaq Harrison, DaQuan Jeffries, BJ Johnson, Orlando Johnson, Luke Kornet, Zavier Simpson, Emanuel Terry, Frank Mason III, Chasson Randle, and Jordan Bell. The group assembled has nearly 17 years of NBA experience and almost 900 games at the world’s highest level of basketball.

However, late word came that DaQuan Jeffries suffered an injury forcing him to withdraw while Frank Mason III was not cleared to participate fully with the team. Those two absences allowed former Boston Celtics star, Isaiah Thomas, and the 15th overall selection of the Dallas Mavericks in the 2015 NBA Draft, Justin Anderson, to hop aboard.

As interest in the FIBA qualifiers continues to mount, many of the premier betting sites are offering odds on each one of these games as well as NBA futures odds. Sports betting has now become legal in the United States and 29 states have passed legislation to allow sports betting in one form or another. Most of these states have online betting platforms which allow anyone within the physical boundaries of the state to place a bet. There will be plenty of interest in these qualifiers as USA Basketball seeks to get back on track and atop the world in the game that originated in America.

jim boylen

Boylen Leads Team USA into Qualifiers

The United States will join host Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico in Group D while Group A will consist of Argentina, Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela. Group B will be comprised of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay while Group C will consist of the Bahamas, Canada, the Dominican Republic, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

These 16 teams represent the FIBA Americas region and the top three teams in each group will advance to the second round which will begin in August of 2022 and end in February of 2023. For those teams that qualify for the World Cup, the tournament begins on August 25th, 2023, and concludes on September 10th, 2023.

Boylen is an excellent choice to lead this USA squad through the qualifiers and when it was announced he was chosen as the head coach he issued the following statement, “I am excited, honored, and thankful to take on the responsibilities of head coach for USA Basketball’s World Cup Qualifying Team. To have this opportunity to represent my country in the November FIBA World Cup Qualifying games is truly humbling.

“I have previous coaching experience with both Othella Harrington and Ty Ellis. They’re really good coaches and they have international experience, so their basketball knowledge and advice will be invaluable. I’m really looking forward to this amazing opportunity.”

The U.S. team will be instructed to protect the rim, transition quickly at both ends of the court, and play relentless defense. Those are the hallmarks of Boylen’s coaching stints both at the collegiate and professional levels. He has served with his assistant coaches before and the triumvirate should be fully in sync when the games get underway at the end of November.

The teams in the World Cup can qualify directly for the 2024 Olympics in Paris and should the United States qualify, which they most likely will, the Olympic iteration will be markedly different from the one we see in the early qualifying rounds. This group is simply a placeholder for the team yet to be assembled for the Olympic Games and it will be interesting to see which current NBA stars decide to suit up when the games begin in earnest.

Don’t expect LeBron James to be one of those participating as he opted out in the 2016 Olympics in Rio and the most recent Tokyo Olympics. After getting the bronze medal with the 2004 team, LeBron helped the 2008 and 2012 squads to Olympic gold. He has appeared in 68 international competitions but according to USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo, that’s the last we will see of LeBron in international events.

"Father Time takes its toll," Colangelo told ESPN Radio. "If you're a human being, your body is built to go so long depending on what your sport is, and then it's a downhill situation. LeBron made choices these last couple of Olympics not to participate because he's got a lot of things going on in his life."

"So, he put in his time, he made a contribution that is appreciated, but I think his time is over."

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