Jim Boylen didn’t spend time thinking about what the World Cup playoff standings might look like after USA Basketball’s game against Brazil on Friday.
He keeps thinking that the Americans have four qualifying games left.
“And in my brain, I act like we have to win four to get in,” Boylen said.
He knows differently. The United States (7-1 in qualifying) can clinch a berth at next year’s World Cup with victory on Friday when they host Brazil (5-3) in Washington. The national team will wear the national colors in the nation’s capital on Veterans Day, with a chance to secure one of 32 berths for the tournament to be played next summer in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.
For the United States, qualifying began almost a year ago at the end of November. For some teams in the FIBA Americas region, it started in April 2021.
It’s been a long road, but Boylen and the Americans are finally in a position to win.
“It’s never easy,” said Boylen, who has coached the last eight U.S. qualifying games – all played in two-game windows, often with a different formation each time. “Expect the unexpected. Expect to make adjustments. You just roll with it, keep it simple. I believe we have to be superior on the defensive side of the field. You hope the shots come in, but we have to defend and bounce back. That’s what we can control.
The World Cup provides the most direct path for teams to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The Americans have used mostly G League players in qualifying games; these players know that the best players in the NBA will take their place in the World Cup and the Olympics.
“It’s very humbling when we have guys rehearsing and they say, ‘Yeah, coach, I loved it and I want to be a part of it,'” Boylen said. It’s almost a thankless job. If we win nobody talks about it and if we lose it’s on the ticker. But I’m not selling it like that. I’m selling it because in the last 30 years there are 293 guys who have worn the senior men’s national jersey. They’re one of the most elite group of guys in the history of the game. People don’t realize it. »
The Americans have used 37 different players so far in the qualifying cycle. That number will increase on Friday; only five players on the roster for the game against Brazil and Monday’s game against Colombia appeared in the 2023 qualifier.
Langston Galloway, DaQuan Jeffries, David Stockton, Will Davis II and Michael Frazier II have all previously played for the United States in this qualifying round; Galloway has the most appearances with six. The rest of the roster is made up of Charlie Brown Jr., Chris Chiozza, Rodney Hood, Alize Johnson, Elijah Pemberton, Henry Sims, and Craig Sword.
There remain 12 teams – two groups of six – from the Americas region, all vying for seven World Cup spots.
USA lead their qualifying group (Group F) by two games with four remaining on the qualifying schedule; the last two-game qualifying window is in February. Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay are all 5-3; Puerto Rico is 4-4 and Colombia is 3-5.
Canada leads Group E 8-0, followed by Venezuela (7-1), Argentina (6-2), Dominican Republic (5-3), Panama (2-6) and Bahamas (2-6).
The top three teams from each group, as well as the best fourth-place team, will receive World Cup berths. The World Cup draw takes place in Manila in March and the tournament runs from late August to mid-September.
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