COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — USA Basketball has picked the 12 players for the final two games of World Cup qualifying later this month, tasked with giving the Americans a berth in this summer’s tournament and moving them one step closer to the Paris Olympics.
Of the 12, four have been in past games during qualifying for this year’s World Cup — Langston Galloway has played in eight of the 10 games, Will Davis II has played in five and Elijah Pemberton and Craig Sword have been in two apiece.
The other eight players will be part of qualifying for the first time in this tournament: Deonte Burton, Abdul Gaddy, Treveon Graham, Dusty Hannahs, Nate Hinton, Jay Huff, Xavier Moon and Reggie Perry.
Jim Boylen, who has led the Americans to an 8-2 record to this point in qualifying, is back as coach for the final two-game window. The U.S. will play at Uruguay on Feb. 23, then finish qualifying at Brazil on Feb. 26.
There are multiple ways the U.S. can clinch its spot in the 32-team World Cup field, the simplest of them being a win against either Uruguay or Brazil. The only way the Americans wouldn’t qualify for the World Cup — the primary way teams will earn a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics — is by losing both games, plus have at least four outcomes of other games not go their way, and then they’d have to lose a series of tiebreakers on top of all that.
FIBA seems so convinced that the Americans will reach the World Cup that it already has determined the U.S. will play all its games during the tournament in the Philippines, and will not have to play in either Japan or Indonesia. Those three nations will play host to the World Cup this summer, with the final rounds in Manila.
The World Cup starts Aug. 25 and runs through Sept. 10. The draw for the field is in March.
So far, 17 of the 32 spots in the field have been clinched. The last 15 will be secured this month.
Americas Region: Canada has clinched a berth. There are six remaining for FIBA Americas teams, with eight teams — the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Panama — still in the mix for those spots.
Europe Region: Latvia, Greece, Germany, Finland, Slovenia, France, Lithuania, Spain and Italy are in. That leaves three spots out of the 12 allocated to Europe; Serbia, Georgia and Montenegro currently have the best chance at claiming those. Other teams still in the mix are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Hungary, Iceland and Ukraine.
Africa Region: Ivory Coast is in, and that leaves four spots. Angola, South Sudan, Egypt and Cape Verde are in the best positions to clinch; Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Congo and Guinea are still in the mix as well.
Asia-Oceania Region: Lebanon, New Zealand, Australia and China have qualified. Japan and the Philippines also have qualified, as tournament hosts. That leaves two spots for Iran, Kazakhstan, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.