World Cup Rumors
The U.S. men’s basketball team will host its next two World Cup qualifying games in Santa Cruz, California, at the home of the Golden State Warriors’ G League affiliate. The Americans will play Cuba on Feb. 23 and Puerto Rico on Feb. 26 at Kaiser Permanente Arena, USA Basketball announced Monday. The Americans beat Puerto Rico last month during their 2-0 start in the new qualifying format for the 2019 World Cup in China.
Mark Woods: Greek coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos says he expects Giannis Antetokounmpo (and 3 other NBAers) to play in one of the World Cup qualifying windows next summer but hold talks after season.
For USA Basketball, the first World Cup qualifying test is out of the way. Jameel Warney and Reggie Hearn each scored 17 points and the United States opened qualifying for the 2019 Basketball World Cup with an 85-78 victory over Puerto Rico on Thursday night.
Xavier Munford scored 12 points and Markel Brown added 10 for the Americans, who trailed 57-51 late in the third. A 10-0 run late in that quarter gave the U.S. the lead, and a 22-12 burst in the fourth decided things. “Those of our players that have played in a FIBA game, I think knew what to expect,” U.S. coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “But those that had not played in a FIBA game, it was harder for them initially to adapt and adjust. We got hit with haymakers early, and I was really proud of our guys.”
Omri Casspi will try to keep up with his Israeli teammates when they open qualifying for the 2019 Basketball World Cup this week. That’s all he can do, because basketball’s best players are stuck on the sidelines in the new format. “It’s kind of weird, obviously,” the Golden State forward said. “No NBA, no Euroleague playing in these qualifications. Kind of taking away from the fun of the game, in a sense.”
“I think it’s a good idea to have these windows, so people can go, like soccer, in the middle of the year and see your national team at home,” longtime Spanish guard Jose Calderon said. “That’s the nice part. But to be able to do that, you’ve got to be able to get everybody on the same page so players can go play like in soccer. What you cannot do is ask the player to do something when they really don’t know what to do. They’re being pulled from both sides.”