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2023 FIBA World Cup

Spoelstra acknowledges challenge as young Team USA gears up for FIBA World Cup

USA National Team Assistant Coach Erik Spoelstra expressed their squad’s readiness two days before the opening day of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia.

The Americans, drawn in Group C with Greece, Jordan, and New Zealand, will play at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City with their first game slated for Saturday, August 26.

While the team is prepared to face the world’s best, Filipino-American coach Spoelstra also emphasized their deep understanding of the continuous improvement across all other nations in the sport of basketball.

The USA aims to redeem itself in this edition after settling for a disappointing seventh-place finish in the 2019 version of the sport’s grandest stage.

“We feel like we’re ready, but we understand how challenging it is,” said Spoelstra on Wednesday at Kerry Sports Manila during USA’s elite basketball clinic for 40 men and women from high school and collegiate levels.

“It’s the best countries in the world; it’s truly become a global game. That’s the beautiful thing about it; the game’s popularity is incredible in every region of the world,” added the two-time NBA champion coach for the Miami Heat.

USA has called up young talents to represent the powerhouse country in the World Cup, with their oldest players being Bobby Portis and Josh Hart, both just 28 years old.

Leading the team are explosive guard Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Austin Reaves, Jalen Brunson, Brandon Ingram, and the recent NBA Rookie of the Year winner Paolo Banchero.

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Completing the Final 12 are Mikal Bridges, Jaren Jackson Jr., Walker Kessler, and Cameron Johnson.

2023-FIBA-WC-USA-at-BGC-Shang-Mikal-Bridges-scaled Spoelstra acknowledges challenge as young Team USA gears up for FIBA World Cup 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball News  - philippine sports news

(C) USA Basketball

“It’s a big challenge, and we’re up against countries that have been together for years. We’re trying to put together a relatively young team,” said Spoelstra about the competition.

“That’s what’s also exciting about this group, and we’re trying to assemble a team in six weeks while facing teams that have played together for years,” he continued.

“Our group is highly motivated, has a great spirit about them, and understands that we have to work together to accomplish the ultimate goal.”

Being proudly half Filipino, Spoelstra shared with the team even before they arrived in Manila how basketball-crazy the Philippines is.

And the country delivered, as Team USA, along with all the other national teams in the Philippines right now, has already experienced rockstar treatments.

I’m excited for our program to see the enthusiasm for basketball and our team here in Manila. I’ve tried to explain it to everybody, but to really come to Manila and experience it, it’s tough to articulate,” said the veteran coach.

“We’ve only been here for 24 hours, and all the players now understand what I was talking about.”

With reports from JP Manahan

Written By

Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.

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