Despite injuries and withdrawals, Team USA is still the squad to beat heading into the FIBA World Cup.
With a healthy Derrick Rose, James Harden, Anthony Davis and others leading the way, the expectation is that the Americans will band together to bring home the win for the United States.
Before World Cup play begins, the United States still has a few more exhibitions left to play. The Americans have already beaten Brazil 95-78 in Chicago earlier this month, and they demolished the Dominican Republic 105-62 in New York on Wednesday.
The win in Chicago was a homecoming for Rose. The Chicago native and Chicago Bulls star has battled major knee injuries the last two years. The game at the United Center marked the first time he performed on his home floor since November 22 of 2013.
Per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com, after the game, Rose said:
I've been preparing for this for a long time. Probably, if this was a couple weeks ago I wouldn't have been emotional, but right now it feels great. We won the game so that's the only thing I could be happy about -- we won. We didn't lose. If we had lost my whole attitude would have been different. Just take this win, go to New York [Sunday] and just try to keep this going.
If Rose can stay healthy, he figures to be among the standouts for Team USA throughout the World Cup.
Rose has sat out two practices and missed the game against the Dominicans, but he and Team USA insist he's just resting.
No Derrick Rose in this Team USA practice on ESPN2. "Planned light day" and knees in ice for D-Rose after his United Center return SAT night— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 18, 2014
He will play in the next tuneup. Here's a look at the remaining exhibition games before World Cup play begins on August 30.
|August 22||Puerto Rico||New York||7 p.m. ET||ESPN 2|
|August 26||Slovenia||Gran Canaria, Spain||2 p.m. ET||ESPN 2|
Neither Puerto Rico or Slovenia figure to present much of an issue for the Americans, but the going will get tougher once the real competition begins.
Team USA will open against Finland, Here's a breakdown of the World Cup schedule, assuming the Americans advance to the gold medal game as expected.
|August 30||Finland||Group||3:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|August 31||Turkey||Group||3:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|September 2||New Zealand||Group||11:30 a.m. ET||ESPN|
|September 3||Dominican Republic||Group||3:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|September 4||Ukraine||Group||11:30 a.m. ET||ESPN|
|September 6-7||TBA||Round of 16||TBA||TBA|
|Sept 13||TBA||Bronze Medal Game||TBA||TBA|
|September 14||TBA||Gold Medal Game||TBA||TBA|
If all goes as planned, there will be a coronation on September 14. If not, there will be a boatload of questions and a sea of disappointment for American hoops fans who can't stomach second-place finishes.
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