USA start Basketball World Cup defence against Czechs

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

Defending champion U.S. was joined by streaking Japan, Turkey and Czech Republic in Group E.

The 32-country World Cup is August 31 to September 15, with the medal games being held in Beijing. Angola is the lowest-ranked team in Group D at 39th.

The U.S. won the World Cup in 2010 and 2014. "Selecting and preparing the U.S. team in a short amount of time will be a challenge and repeating as gold medalists for a third straight FIBA World Cup is something everyone associated with the US team will embrace".

Second-ranked Spain will meet Puerto Rico, Iran and Tunisia in the group stage.

Canada will cross over with the top two teams from Group G (Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Jordan) if they are able to advance to the 2nd round.

"This is always an exciting part of the journey to a World Cup, to finally find out who we will play and begin to put our plans in place", Henare said. There will be 12 teams in the Olympic field - host Japan is one, and seven other nations will directly qualify from the World Cup.

"I believe it is going to be a great, competitive tournament", said the 40-year-old, who was given a rousing reception from the 8,000 crowd at the draw and had his name chanted on several occasions.

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The Tall Blacks will play Greece, Brazil and Montenegro at the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

"You might say we have been better in those situations, when no one expects us to do well, we love to be in the fight as an underdog".

"It's a greater sense of honor to be playing for your country", Bryant said. The Americans, who used G League players to get through the qualifying rounds, won't even convene for World Cup training camp until early August and have a pool of 35 players to choose from for this summer's games. Reigning NBA MVP James Harden says he wants to play, and he's among 15 current All-Stars who are in the US player pool for this national team.

"I think a lot of teams can pretend to be able to go all the way to the final", said Diaw, who spent 14 years in the National Basketball Association.

"USA of course, but you get a lot of other teams like Spain, Serbia, teams like Lithuania, like Australia, so it's going to be hard".

Houston star James Harden, the NBA's reigning MVP, said the lure of the World Cup and playing for the United States of America is hard to ignore.

A total of 32 teams have qualified to play in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. "Obviously, you've got the National Basketball Association and you have winning a championship and all that good stuff, but with this, you're not just playing for your respective cities or where you're from, you're playing for an entire country you represent".

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