USA Basketball is set to play two first-round FIBA World Cup Qualifying games, Friday vs. Cuba (11 PM ET, ESPNU) and Monday vs. Puerto Rico (11 PM ET, ESPN2). Both games will be hosted by the Santa Cruz Warriors at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Here’s what you need to know heading into the games:
What impact do these games have on qualifying for the World Cup?
This weekend’s games fall in the second of three windows in the first round of World Cup Qualifying. USA finished 2-0 in the first window, sitting atop the Group C standings. For the third window, the USA will play two away games, at Mexico on June 28, 2018, and at Cuba on July 1, 2018.
After completion of the first round, the top three finishing teams in each of the four, Americas first-round groups advance to the second round. The three advancing teams from Group A and Group C will form Group E, while the top three finishers from Group B and Group D will form Group F. The three second-round windows of competition will take place Sept. 13-17, 2018; Nov. 29-Dec. 3, 2018; and Feb. 21-25, 2019.
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
Following completion of the Americas second-round games, seven teams will qualify out of the zone for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, including the top three finishing teams from second-round Group E and Group F, and the best fourth placed team between Group E and Group F.
How is Olympic qualifying determined?
Results from the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 will qualify seven teams for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The top two finishing teams in the World Cup from the Americas and Europe, as well as the top finisher from Africa, Asia and Oceania will earn Olympic qualifying berths. Additionally, Olympic host, Japan, automatically qualified. The final four nations will qualify through four FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments that will be held in 2020 in advance of the Olympics.
Who is playing for the USA team?
The USA roster is comprised of 12 players from the NBA G League. Click here to see the roster.
Longtime NBA coach and current ESPN color commentator Jeff Van Gundy is serving as the team’s head coach.
When did NBA G League players start playing for USA Basketball?
In May 2017, USA Basketball announced the formation of a six-member 2017-20 USA Basketball World Cup Qualification Committee, responsible for the selection of players who will comprise the 2017-20 USA Men’s World Cup Qualification Teams. The committee is comprised of appointees by USA Basketball and the NBA G League, marking the first time NBA G League players would become a part of the USA roster pool.
In September 2017, a 12-man roster that featured 11 NBA G League alums won gold in the FIBA AmeriCup tournament, finishing with a 5-0 record. In November, a 12-man roster comprised entirely of NBA G League alums won both of its games in the first window of FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifying play. In February, the team scrimmaged against the Mexico National Team in the inaugural NBA G League International Challenge — the first-ever international exhibition at NBA All-Star.