Sat. Jul 20th, 2024
USA Basketball Fiba World Cup

(L-R) Austin Reaves #15, Walker Kessler #14, Jaren Jackson Jr. #13, Josh Hart #12, Jalen Brunson #11, Anthony Edwards #10, Bobby Portis #9, Paolo Banchero #8, Brandon Ingram #7, Cam Johnson #6, Mikal Bridges #5 and Tyrese Haliburton #4 of the United States stand on the court before a 2023 FIBA World Cup exhibition game. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio admitted that they would have wanted a ‘Tier 1″  Team USA in the country’s hosting of the Fiba World Cup 2023 but he believes that the Americans are still the team to beat.

For Panlilio, even if the current United States team wasn’t as star-studded as its previous squads, it remains still a force to be reckoned with in the race for the Naismith Trophy.

“Initially, we wanted a Tier 1 [USA] team. But if you look at the lineup, it’s a pretty formidable team. I don’t know whether you’ve been seeing their last few games. I just saw the highlights with Slovenia and Spain. It’s a pretty tough team,” said the SBP chief during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.

Team USA, led by Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards, recently took down the Luka Doncic-led Slovenia and World Cup defending champion Spain in friendlies.

USA TEAM TO BEAT

Erik Spoelstra USA Basketball Tyronn Lue Steve Kerr Fiba World Cup

United States head coach Steve Kerr, fourth from left, speaks with assistant coach Erik Spoelstra, third from left, during the first half of an exhibition basketball game against Puerto Rico, Monday, Aug. 7, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Aside from Edwards, his fellow NBA All-Stars Brandon Ingram, Tyrese Haliburton, and Jaren Jackson Jr. as well as rising stars Austin Reaves, Jalen Brunson, Paolo Banchero, Mikal Bridges, Bobby Portis Jr., Walker Kessler, Josh Hart, and Cam Johnson are flying the flag for the Americans.

Panlilio believes the USA remains the favorite to win it all under the guidance of NBA coaches Steve Kerr, who is a four-time champion tactician of the Golden State Warriors, and his Filipino-American assistant Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat.

“I think it’s also because of two people. Steve Kerr and Erik Spoelstra. So if you see, grabe yung USA team. They’re not maybe your veteran superstars, but these are upcoming, highly-contracted NBA players, high-quality players, and with the coaching of Steve and Erik Spoelstra, the USA team is the team to beat,” he said.

The US is slated in Group C with Greece, New Zealand, and Jordan at Mall of Asia Arena.

USA missed Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, and Khris Middleton, who played in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Philippines’ hosting also saw the pullout of two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for Greece due to a knee injury as well as 2023 NBA champion and Finals MVP Nikola Jokic, who won’t play for Serbia.

Serbia will play at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Group B with South Sudan, China, and Puerto Rico.



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