Team USA will begin its quest to qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup on Nov. 23 against Puerto Rico and Nov. 26 against Mexico in the Americas qualifying tournament.
The NBA G League will once again serve as the talent pool for USA’s roster after NBA G League alums represented the U.S. for the first time ever during FIBA AmeriCup this past summer.
Here’s what you need to know heading into the action:
How does the Americas Qualifying Tournament work?
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Each team in the tournament will compete in two rounds of games, spanning until February 2019. The tournament will begin with four groups of four teams, which will dwindle down to seven teams that will ultimately qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Group A: Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Panama
Group B: Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Colombia
Group C: Mexico, Puerto Rico, USA, Cuba
Group D: Virgin Island, Canada, Bahamas, Dominic Republic
Round 1 will consist of six games, over three “windows” where teams can compete (Nov. 23-27, 2017; Feb. 22-26, 2018; and June 28-July 2, 2018). After the first round, the top three teams in each group will move on to the second round.
For the Round 2, there will be two new groups formed, Group E and F. Group E will consist of the remaining nations from Group A and C, while Group F will come from those left in Group B and D. The three second-round windows of competition will take place on Sept. 13-17, 2018; Nov. 29-Dec. 3, 2018; and Feb. 21-25, 2019.
After Round 2, the top three from each group, along with the next top nation between both groups, will qualify for the World Cup. These seven will join others to make the 32 nations that will compete in the World Cup. China automatically qualified, being the host nation, while the other 31 will be determined from qualifying tournaments in the Americas (seven), Africa (five), Asia (seven) and Europe (12).
These teams will then compete for the gold from Aug. 31-Sept. 15, 2019 in China.
Who will be competing?
The USA Basketball World Cup Qualification Committee selected a 12-man roster for the first round.
The team will once again be coached by former NBA head coach and current TV color analyst Jeff Van Gundy, while veteran international coach Mo McHone and former Georgetown head coach John Thompson III will serve as assistant coaches.
From the 2017 AmeriCup Gold Medal team, USA will return MVP Jameel Warney, along with Larry Drew II, Reggie Hearn and Xavier Munford. Although players in the NBA G League may not be competing in the World Cup and the Round 2 roster won’t be finalized until they move on, here is the Round 1 roster
- Larry Drew II (Sioux Falls Skyforce)*
- Reggie Hearn (Reno Bighorns)*
- Xavier Munford (Wisconsin Herd)*
- Jameel Warney (Texas Legends)*
- Markel Brown (Oklahoma City Blue)
- Semaj Christon (free agent)
- Jarell Eddie (Windy City Bulls)
- Amile Jefferson (Iowa Wolves)
- Kennedy Meeks (Raptors 905)
- Elijah Millsap (Iowa Wolves)
- Donald Sloan (Texas Legends)
- Travis Wear (South Bay Lakers)
*Returning players from AmeriCup team
Eight of the players on Team USA come in with NBA experience – Sloan (218 games), Brown (109), Millsap (69), Christon (64), Wear (51), Eddie (31), Munford (14) and Drew (12). Seven of the players have Team USA experience at some level – Brown (2011 USA Basketball World University Games Team trials), Drew (2017 USA AmeriCup Team), Hearn (2017 USA AmeriCup Team), Meeks (2010 USA Junior National Team minicamp), Munford (2017 USA AmeriCup Team), Sloan (2011 USA Pan American Games Team), Warney (2017 USA AmeriCup Team) and Wear (2008 USA U18 National Team).
Where and when can we watch the action?
In the first window of games, Team USA will take on Puerto Rico on Nov. 23 at 7:30 PM ET at the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena in Orlando, and then will face Mexico at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex FieldHouse on Nov. 26 at 5 PM ET. Both games will be televised on WatchESPN and the WatchESPN App.
For the second window, USA is slated to host Cuba on Feb. 23, 2018 (site and time TBD) and host Puerto Rico on Feb. 26, 2018 (site and time TBD).
In the third and final first-round window, the USA will at Mexico on June 28, 2018, and will conclude its games on July 1 at Cuba.