Kemba Walker

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U.S. men’s basketball team hopes to find form Friday vs. Spain

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If the Basketball World Cup were held tomorrow, U.S. fans would have ample reason to worry.

On Wednesday, the squad battling for World Cup roster spots lost decisively to a group of journeymen, several of whom play in the G-League.

Video of the game (the U.S. team is in white; “USA Select” is in blue) won’t inspire confidence in the national team, which looks sluggish and sloppy while the unheralded group facing them scores easily.

Make no mistake — the U.S. team is still heavily favored in the World Cup, which starts Aug. 31 in China. Gregg Popovich‘s team has been drawn into a group with Turkey, the Czech Republic and Japan. A blogger on the official FIBA site puts the U.S. solidly atop the power rankings. The U.S. team has won all 18 games in the past two World Cups in 2010 and 2014.

But the roster has been considerably weakened. This team doesn’t have the game’s biggest stars — James Harden, Paul George, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Damien Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James.

The only All-NBA player on the U.S. team’s current 15-man roster is Kemba Walker, who made the third team. Myles Turner and Donovan Mitchell are the only other players who received votes. The roster will be cut from 15 to 12 before the World Cup.

This team, though, might play better in front of a crowd. A similar matchup on Aug. 9 in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas ended in a convincing 97-78 win for the U.S. team as Jayson Tatum scored 17 points in less than 16 minutes.

The U.S. will play Spain at 10 p.m. ET Friday in the Honda Center in Anaheim. The team then departs for training and more exhibition games in Australia before heading on to Shanghai a few days before their Sept. 1 opener vs. the Czech Republic.

Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry lead updated USA Basketball finalists for World Cup

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Kemba WalkerKyle Lowry and Khris Middleton are the lone remaining 2019 NBA All-Stars among U.S. candidates for next month’s FIBA World Cup, the first opportunity for nations to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

Half of the original 20 players named to next week’s camp in Las Vegas, used to determine the 12-man World Cup roster, withdrew since June 10. That included the headliners James HardenDamian Lillard and Anthony Davis, with Harden and Lillard reportedly opting out to focus on the NBA season.

Lowry and Harrison Barnes are the two players of the revised 15 finalists with Olympic experience.

The final roster will be named Aug. 17 for September’s FIBA World Cup in China. The U.S. will qualify for the Tokyo Games if it is one of the top two teams from the Americas at worlds. There is also a last-chance qualifying tournament next year.

The original 20 players going to camp:

Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings*
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans**
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
James Harden, Houston Rockets**
Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers**
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors*
C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Paul Millsap, Denver Nuggets
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
P.J. Tucker, Houston Rockets
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets

The revised 15 players going to camp:

Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Harrison Barnes
, Sacramento Kings*
Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers
Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors*
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Mason Plumlee, Denver Nuggets
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
P.J. Tucker, Houston Rockets
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics
Thaddeus Young, Chicago Bulls

*2016 Olympian
**2012 Olympian

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will make his U.S. head coaching debut at the World Cup, succeeding Mike Krzyzewski, who led the Americans to Olympic titles in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

It has become custom for the World Cup team to include few Olympians. The 2014 roster included two players from the London Olympics (Davis, Harden). The 2010 World Cup team had zero Beijing Olympians.

MORE: How U.S. Olympic 3×3 teams will be chosen

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