USA Basketball picks roster for World Cup qualifiers

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — USA Basketball has picked the 12 players who will compete in the next two-game round of qualifying for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Most of the picks are coming from the G League — Joel Berry II, Reggie Hearn, Scotty Hopson, John Jenkins, DeAndre Liggins, Chasson Randle, Cameron Reynolds, Richard Solomon and Travis Trice. NBA free agents Eric Moreland, Jarnell Stokes and Tyler Zeller were also chosen for the roster.

The U.S. is 7-1 so far in qualifying and has road games coming at Argentina (7-1) on Nov. 29 and Uruguay (5-3) on Dec. 2.

Jeff Van Gundy is coaching the Americans in qualifying. If the U.S. qualifies for China, the national team coached by Gregg Popovich and loaded with NBA all-stars would play in that event.

There are scenarios where the U.S. could clinch a spot for next year’s World Cup in China during this two-game window. Otherwise, the Americans’ fate could be decided by outcomes of games in Greensboro, North Carolina next February against Panama (Feb. 22) and Argentina (Feb. 25).

And the U.S.-Argentina game next week could be huge.

The U.S. and Argentina are tied atop Group E with 7-1 records and will play with outright control of first place in the group standings up for grabs. Uruguay and Puerto Rico will meet that same day, each entering with 5-3 records, meaning the loser there will be three games behind the U.S.-Argentina winner with three games left in qualifying.

The top three teams in the group standings are guaranteed spots in the World Cup.

Qualifying started late last year, and it’s been broken up into a series of two-game windows. FIBA changed the qualifying rules for this tournament, and because most of the games have overlapped with the NBA season the Americans had no choice but to ask G League players to earn the country’s spot in the World Cup — even though a chance to play in China won’t be the reward for any of those players.

This is the fifth of those qualifying windows, and Van Gundy is getting basically a fifth different roster. He’s used 37 players already in the qualifying games, and nine of the 12 players he’s taking to South America on this trip has yet to appear in any of the eight previous qualifier contests.

Hearn has appeared in five of the eight games, averaging 12.2 points. Randle and Trice have each played twice, averaging 9.0 and 8.5 points respectively.