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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Four New York Hoopers Highlight USA Roster for FIBA World Cup

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Although Team USA’s time has come to an end at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the nation still has a chance on another global sports stage.

The USA National Basketball team had their first exhibition this past Monday against Puerto Rico in preparation for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup, which takes place on August 25. It was a 117-74 blowout in favor of Team USA, alleviating some doubt the team has faced since the roster’s announcement.

Basketball fans around the world have criticized this year’s USA roster for its noticeable lack of superstar talent. The team is missing some of the best players in the NBA that are eligible to play for the USA; prominent absences include LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), and Kevin Durant (Phoenix Suns), amongst many other stars. The days of the “Dream Team” are over as many NBA players opt out of the FIBA World Cup in order to avoid injury which often results in a Team USA squad like we see this year.

However, this team is no joke. It’s a young group of rising stars consisting of four former all stars: Brandon Ingram (2020), Anthony Edwards (2023), Tyrese Haliburton (2023), and Jaren Jackson Jr. (2023). The reigning Rookie of the Year, Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic, is also on the squad.

The city of New York is playing a major role on this roster. Jalen Brunson, the hero for the New York Knicks this past season, is taking part in the World Cup along with his teammate Josh Hart. These two will be bringing their team chemistry and winning mentality which dates back to their days at Villanova, where they won a National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Title in 2018.

Additionally, another former Villanova Wildcat will be joining them once again representing New York City. Mikal Bridges of the Brooklyn Nets is participating in the tournament amidst a breakout season where he averaged 26.1 points per game (PPG) after being traded to Brooklyn. He is joined by teammate Cam Johnson who was with him in Phoenix as well.

These four elite players have been crucial parts of their New York teams this past season, which they can hopefully carry over to the FIBA World Cup.

That’s exactly what they did in their first exhibition. Johnson scored 15 points in the victory which was tied with Edwards for the team high. Bridges was right behind him with 14 points in the game representing Brooklyn well.

Brunson recorded a double-double with 11 points and twelve rebounds (team high). Hart didn’t play in this game due to the Coach’s decision, but he will prove to play an important role on Team USA.

Despite this promising victory this is still an inexperienced team with some concerns. Prior to their match against Puerto Rico, they practiced against the USA Select Team, which consists of less talented NBA players. Team USA lost two ten-minute scrimmages against this squad, instilling doubt in their FIBA World Cup success.

As the World Cup quickly approaches, this underdog team looks to prove everyone wrong and bring a trophy back to the USA.

James Haupt
James Haupt
James Haupt is The Messenger Papers' weekly Sports Reporter and Staff Writer, covering everything from local little leagues to professional sports teams. James is also a full-time college student at Villanova University majoring in Journalism.