Team USA will play all of its 2023 World Cup matches in the Philippines, FIBA announced on Monday. Here’s what you need to know:
- This marks a dramatic change from the previous cup in which the Americans played in four Chinese cities over a 16-day period.
- Team Canada, with a likely large roster of NBA players, will start on world Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the Slovenia team, led by superstar Luka Doncicwill open in Okinawa, Japan.
- For the first time, the Basketball World Cup, which takes place from August 25 to September 10, is organized jointly by three countries, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in an arena of 50,000 places about 40 minutes from Manila.
USA Basketball heading to Manila
Manila is a hoops-crazed Southeast Asian hub where many NBA stars have taken solo trips on international shoe tours for Nike or Adidas. So it’s no surprise that as the main host of the 2023 Cup, he chose Team USA with its potential full roster of established or young stars as the anchor team in the Filipino side of the bracket.
Four years ago at the 2019 Cup, the Americans opened the game in Shanghai, where they stayed for around 10 days, then moved to Shenzhen – on the southern edge of China – for more than a week. The American team then had to take a bus to Dongguan about 90 miles away, where they lost to France, and had to rebook a hotel after already checking out, as the loss to the French meant they had another game the following night against Serbia. The Americans also lost that match before flying to Beijing to challenge for seventh place.
“Movements take a lot out of a team,” said Sean Ford, manager of the United States men’s national team. “It’s a lot of packing up all your stuff and moving it around, then getting into a new routine in the new hotel. And then you have a new bedroom, a new dining room, a new elevator, a new bus, a new route to the arena, a new gymnasium, a new locker room, like all that. And so being in the same place is a good thing.
“It’s also not easy to eat in the same room for 19 days,” Ford continued. “There is nothing really easy in the World Cup. But there are certain things that are preferred.
The Canadians and Slovenians will play their first five matches in Indonesia and Japan, respectively, and wouldn’t need to travel to Manila before the quarter-finals begin – if they made it that far.
The full draw for the 32 World Cup teams will take place on April 29.
Work to do
FIBA, the international basketball governing body, made the announcement despite a minor inconvenience. The United States team, uh, is not quite qualified for the World Cup yet.
The Americans, who send teams of G Leaguers or former Journeyman NBA players out of the league to play in qualifying games, are 8-2 in 10 games. A loss last month to Brazil in Washington DC deprived Team USA of a chance to qualify, and knocked USAB out of world No. 1 rankings (it now belongs to Spain).
No one is under any illusion that the Americans would somehow fail to qualify. They have two games left in South America – against Brazil and Uruguay – in February, they could possibly lose both and qualify for the World Cup via the tiebreaker. For example, if the Americans lost to Brazil by less than 78 points, they would still likely qualify.
So you can go ahead and book that charter flight, if you’re USA Basketball, and still call stars like Bradley Bealand Trae youngand Donovan Mitchell — who are part of the talented pool of Americans to express interest.
What they say
“I can tell you that the emphasis we are putting with our NBA colleagues to have a great roster (for Team USA) next year in the Men’s World Cup is the priority of the discussions,” Andreas said. Zagklis, FIBA Secretary General, On Monday. “On our side, we are doing our part by continuously improving the conditions for them so that they feel that this is the moment when I represent my country, this is the moment when I am with my compatriots playing on the pitch, c t is the time that I go to a new country and have fantastic conditions and also have a new cultural experience for myself.
(Photo: Kyle Terada/USA Today)