Joe Johnson, Galloway headline USA World Cup Qualifying Team

Returning three players with previous USA World Cup Qualifying or AmeriCup Qualifying experience, and featuring 11 athletes possessing NBA regular season experience, USA Basketball today announced its 12-man roster for the February 2021 USA World Cup Qualifying Team.

Selected for the February 2021 USA World Cup Qualifying Team were Jordan Bell (Fort Wayne Mad Ants/Oregon), Tarik Black (Grand Rapids Gold/Kansas), Brian Bowen II (Iowa Wolves),  Langston Galloway (College Park Skyhawks/Saint Joseph’s), Jared Harper (Birmingham Squadron/Auburn), Joe Johnson (Free Agent/Arkansas), Juwan Morgan (Maine Celtics/Indiana), Matt Ryan (Grand Rapids Gold/Chattanooga), David Stockton (Memphis Hustle/Gonzaga), Rayjon Tucker (Wisconsin Herd/Little Rock), Paul Watson (Free Agent/Fresno State) and Justin Wright-Foreman (Birmingham Squadro/Hofstra).

Former NBA head coach Jim Boylen , who directed the USA team during the November 2021 World Cup Qualifying games in Chihuahua, Mexico, will again serve as head coach of the USA Basketball Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team. Also returning to the sidelines as assistant coaches are USA Basketball experienced coaches Ty Ellis and Othella Harrington.

The USA squad will open training camp February 18 in Washington, D.C., and will participate in the second competition window of 2021-23 FIBA World Cup Qualifying games that will see the Americans face Puerto Rico (1-1) on Feb. 24 and Mexico (2-0) on February 27. Both games will be played at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C.

Bowen, Johnson and Stockton return after playing with previous USA National Teams in FIBA World Cup or AmeriCup qualifying games. Bowen represented the USA in the 2021 November FIBA World Cup Qualifying games and averaged  10.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games.

Johnson suited up for the USA with the February 2021 USA Basketball Men’s AmeriCup Qualifying Team. He started in both games and helped the USA to wins over Bahamas (93-77) and Mexico (95-76) while averaging 11.0 points, a team-high 9.0 rebounds, a team-high 7.5 assists. Johnson was also a member of the  bronze medalist 2006 USA World Cup Team.

Stockton  was part of two USA World Cup Qualifying teams, the February 2018 and June/July 2018 U.S. squads, averaging 10.0 points and 3.0 assists.

While 11 of the USA athletes own prior G League experience, 11 also have NBA regular season experience, including Bell (161 games with  Chicago, Golden State, Minnesota, Memphis and Washington), Black (220 games with  Houston and Los Angeles Lakers), Bowen (12 games with Indiana), Galloway ( 452 games with Brooklyn, Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York, Phoenix and Sacramento), Harper (13 games with  New Orleans, New York and Phoenix), Johnson (1,277 games with  Atlanta, Boston, Brooklyn, Houston, Miami, Phoenix and Utah), Morgan (51 games with  Toronto and Utah), Stockton (6 games with  Sacramento and Utah), Tucker (37 games with   Denver, Philadelphia and Utah), Watson (46 games with Atlanta, Oklahoma City and Toronto) and Wright-Foreman (4 games with Utah).

Additionally, Bell, as a member of Golden State Warriors, was part of the 2018 NBA Championship Team.

Five players also boast of professional playing experience overseas, including Black (Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, Israel and Zenit Saint Petersburg, Russia), Bowen (Sydney Kings-Australia), Stockton ( New Zealand Breakers, Australia; Cedevita, Croatia; Medi Bayreuth, Germany; and Mets de Guaynabo, Puerto Rico), Watson (BG Goettingen, Germany), Wright-Foreman ( Socar Petkimspor, Turkey; Chorale Roanne Basket, France).

Durant named 2021 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year

After he captured his third Olympic gold medal (2012, 2016, 2020) this past summer at the Tokyo Games, Kevin Durant was honored as the 2021 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year.

“It’s amazing to be honored in this way,” Durant said. “First off to represent your country and do it amongst the best athletes in the world, it’s an honor. So many great athletes come through USA Basketball and the national teams in general in all sports, and so to be chosen as one of the top athletes is an honor. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and thankful that I received this award.”

This is the third time Durant has been honored as the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. He also was recognized with the award in 2010, and he shared the honor in 2016 with Carmelo Anthony.

“Kevin was an incredible leader for USA Basketball this past summer,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO. “With this being his third Olympics, he had the respect of his teammates, and he clearly is one of the best basketball players in the world. USA Basketball is grateful to Kevin for his time and ongoing commitment to our organization, and we are proud to celebrate him as the 2021 Male Athlete of the Year.”

Durant started in all six Olympic match ups for the USA, and he averaged a team-leading 20.7 points per game and team second-best of 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He shot 52.9% from the field, 37.5% from 3-point and 90.5% from the free throw line and was named by FIBA as MVP of the 2020 Olympic men’s basketball tournament.

“As he has done before, Kevin Durant performed brilliantly on the international stage and led the way to another gold medal,” said USA head coach Gregg Popovich, who was named as a co-recipient of the 2021 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year award on Dec. 15. “I remain awed by his work ethic, leadership and desire to excel.”

Durant’s 20.7 ppg. set a U.S. Olympic men’s single-competition record for points averaged, and he tied Carmelo Anthony for most Olympic gold medals (three). Durant is one of just four U.S. male basketball athletes to play in three or more Olympics.

Durant, who has led the USA in scoring in all three of his Olympic appearances and at the 2010 FIBA World Cup, owns eight U.S. Olympic men’s career records, including the top spot for points (435), points averaged (19.8), field goals made (146) and attempted (276), 3-point field goals made (74) and attempted (148) and free throws made (69) and attempted (80).

Among all Tokyo Olympic men’s basketball athletes, Durant ranked third in points scored and field goals made, fourth in field goals attempted and defensive rebounds and sixth in scoring average.

WOW!! USA Women’s U16 National Team defeats Costa Rica 121-12

The USA Women’s U16 National Team (4-0), the FIBA No. 1-ranked youth program in the world, ran away with a 121-12 quarterfinal victory over No. 39-ranked Costa Rica (0-4) at the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship on Friday morning in Leon, Mexico. The win not only advanced the U.S. squad to the medal semifinals, but it also earned USA Basketball a berth to the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup as the top four finishing teams, all four quarterfinal winners, qualify for next summer’s competition.

Opening on an 8-0 run, and after Costa Rica scored its first bucket, the USA expanded its lead to 21-2 midway through the first period and never looked back.

The U.S. outscored Costa Rica 36-7 in a first quarter that saw the squad from Central America connect on its three, first-half field goals. In the second quarter, after Costa Rica netted a free throw at 8:25 to make the score 42-8, the USA closed the first half on a 24-0 scoring spree.

“I want to commend Costa Rica for its ability to continue to fight and battle, and I really have a ton of respect in the way in which the game never became chippy,” said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S., Calif.). “There was a wonderful exchange after the game between the players and the coaches in which sportsmanship and a level of appreciation of each other was shown. We’re in different places in our basketball journeys, in terms of where their program is and where ours is. Today, Costa Rica continued on its own path to try to get better. It was neat to experience that level of sportsmanship, and I was really touched by their kind words and well wishes.”

All 10 available players were on the scoreboard by halftime and finished with a balanced effort that saw everyone score between seven and 18 points.

“I thought it was great that we had six players in double figures and everyone else was one field goal away from being in double figures,” Phillips added. “And minutes-wise, we’re all around 20 minutes. So, I like the way the kids are getting that game experience and we’re also monitoring the mileage on their legs. It’s neat that the player of the game has been different every game, which has been really special as a coach to see.”

Maggie Mendelson (Fremont H.S./North Ogden, Utah) shot 9-of-16 from the field and finished with a game-high 18 points to go with eight rebounds. Her nine made field goals tied a USA U16 single-game record, which was accomplished seven times by six prior USA U16 athletes.

JuJu Watkins (Sierra Canyon High School/Los Angeles, Calif.) scored 17 points, grabbed eight boards, dished out seven assists and had five steals; Jadyn Donovan (Sidwell Friends School, D.C./Upper Marlboro, Md.) hit 7-of-8 from the field and notched a double-double with 16 points, a game-high 10 rebounds and four steals; Grace Slaughter (Grain Valley H.S./Grain Valley, Mo.) contributed 14 points; Breya Cunningham (La Jolla Country Day School/Chula Vista, Calif.) scored 12 points; and Olivia Olson (Benilde-St. Margaret’s/New Hope, Minn.) chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds. Jada Williams (La Jolla Country Day/San Diego, Calif.), who scored nine points, tied Watkins with a game-high seven assists.  

“If I was the other teams, I would be worried because you can’t guard 10 people,” said Donovan about how teams in the medal round will have difficulty scouting the balanced U.S. roster, which has seven players averaging double digits in points through four games. “You have to figure out a way to guard 12 different people because each person on our team can score 10 or more points a game. So, it’s a good thing for us.”


Popovich on winning gold: ‘Every championship is special, and the group you’re with is special’

At times, many thought that the Team USA men’s basketball team would not win gold in Tokyo, especially after losing exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia in Las Vegas and losing to France in their Olympic opener.

However, due to the greatness of Kevin Durant, Team USA was able to capture its fourth consecutive gold medal by defeating France 87-82 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on Saturday.

Durant, who scored 29 points in the gold medal game, was the leader for Team USA and has played a significant role in each of the last three golds. He’s scored 30 points in each of the previous two gold-medal games and now is tied with Carmelo Anthony for the most gold medals in Olympic men’s basketball history.

“I hate to compare stuff because you know everything is its own moment,” Durant said postgame. “But this is one of those special journeys that it’s just hard to describe because each and every one of us put in that work every single day, from the coaches to the trainers, to the players. We all came in with that goal of, ‘Let’s finish this thing off. Let’s build a family. Let’s build this team. Let’s grow this team every day.’ And when you are part of a team that’s evolving by the second, it’s just amazing to see.”

U.S. coach Gregg Popovich has five NBA titles, and now, he has a gold medal.

“Every championship is special, and the group you’re with is special,” he said. “But I can be honest and say this is the most responsibility I’ve ever felt because you’re playing for so many people that are watching and for your country and other countries involved. The responsibility was awesome, and I felt it every day for several years now. I’m feeling pretty light now and looking forward to getting back to the hotel and having something.”

Milwaukee Bucks teammates Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, who joined the Olympic team in the early morning hours before the U.S. played France in pool play, became the fourth and fifth players to win the NBA Finals and an Olympic gold in the same year.

According to Holiday, this was a great summer.

“Getting in at one in the morning, me, Book(Devin Booker) and Khris(Middleton), and then playing that night against France, losing that game and then being able to go through the rest of the tournament and then winning the gold medal game,” Holiday said. “I don’t know — I guess me thinking about it, and me telling that story, man, that’s a hell of a summer.”

Give this team a lot of credit. They battled hard to win a gold medal. In the end, the world has caught up. However, the United States is still the top dog in men’s basketball.

Photo: (Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)

Team USA men’s basketball team defeats Australia to advance to gold medal game

Kevin Durant is flowing right now, and Team USA men’s basketball is benefitting from it. Durant would lead the U.S. with 23 points, and Devin Booker added 20 as they would defeat Australia 97-78 in the semifinals of the 2020 Olympic Games.

With the win, the U.S. will battle France in the gold medal game on Friday.

After being down 41-26 in the second quarter with just under six minutes left, Team USA went on a 16-4 run to close the gap to 45-42 at the break. From there, Durant took control in the third quarter as he would score eight straight points for the U.S., Booker would add 11 points in the third, and ultimately, Team USA never looked back.

USA head coach Gregg Popovich was unhappy with the team’s defensive effort early in the game, but the team, led by Jrue Holiday, who had 11 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds, responded after a little constructive criticism. 

“When we pointed it out, they reacted,” Popovich said about the team’s defensive effort. “In the last five minutes of the second quarter, they were fantastic, and it continued into the third. I give them credit for understanding the game as well as being able to accept the truth. Because you can be with some players that you can tell them something, but they don’t buy it because they can’t handle certain kinds of criticism. But these guys want the truth, and they react to it.”

Duran, who scored 29 points against Spain in the quarterfinals, and passed Carmelo Anthony to become the U.S. men’s leading scorer in the Olympics, added: “I’m looking forward to going out there and executing the game plan on defense,” Durant said. “Offensively, we don’t have to worry about that. But executing the game plan defensively as a team, and we’ll see what happens.”

Getting the gold won’t be easy for Team USA, but it’s clear that they have found their stride and playing good basketball. No team out there is more talented, including France, who beat the U.S. in the preliminary round, so we’ll see if Team USA can get a little revenge and bring home the gold on Friday.

Photo: Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)
 

Team USA men’s basketball advances to semifinals after defeating Spain

On Tuesday, Team USA’s Kevin Durant and Spain’s Ricky Rubio went toe-to-toe, but Durant and Team USA got the victory 95-81 to advance to the Olympic semifinals.

Durant scored 13 of his 29 points in the third quarter, while Rubio scored 38 points. However, Jayson Tatum had 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter to help put Spain away. Jrue Holiday added 12 points, Damian Lillard 11, and Zach LaVine 10 points.

Sergio Rodriguez added 16 points, and Willy Hernangomez 10 points and 10 rebounds for Spain. The Americans improved to 13-0 versus Spain in Olympic action.

“The game is about buckets,” Durant said. “When you see the ball go in the rim, everybody’s got more energy — coaches, players, trainers, everybody. We started making shots, made some 3s, and guys calmed down and made some stops.”

The game was knotted at 43 at halftime, but Team USA started the third quarter on fire and locked down Spain on defense. They hit five 3-pointers and Spain did not make a field goal for almost six minutes to begin the second half. 

Team USA seems to be coming together at the right time. After losing three out of their first five games(including exhibition games), they have won three straight.

“I think the potential of this team is endless,” Draymond Green said. “Unfortunately, we (only) got two games left. So, we need to make sure that we’re continuing to get better each and every time we step on the floor, and I think that’s why we’ve done it.”

The U.S. will face Australia in Thursday’s semifinals. Team USA lost to Australia in an exhibition game in July, but they have an opportunity to get revenge at the Olympics. 

Photo: Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)
 

Team USA Men’s basketball to battle Spain in medal round quarterfinals

With preliminary round play completed, FIBA (International Basketball Federation) conducted the draw for the Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball medal round quarterfinals Sunday night, and the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team (2-1) will face Spain (2-1)  on Tuesday, Aug. 3 at 12:40 a.m. EDT.

Other August 3 quarterfinals pairings unveiled Sunday included Group B first-place finisher Australia (3-0) versus Group C third-place finisher Argentina (1-2) at 8:00 a.m. EDT; Group A first-place finisher France (3-0) versus Group B second-place finisher Italy (2-1) at 4:20 a.m. EDT; and Group C first-place finisher Slovenia (3-0) versus Group B third-place finisher Germany (1-2) at 9:00 p.m. EDT on Aug. 2.

Winners of the USA/Spain and Australia/Argentina quarterfinal games will meet in one semifinal on Aug. 5, while the winners of the France/Italy and Slovenia/Germany quarterfinal games will face off in the other semifinal. Semifinal winners will advance to the Aug. 7 gold medal game (10:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 6), while semifinal losing teams will advance to the bronze medal game (7:00 a.m. EDT).

Four teams were eliminated from the medal round, including Pool A third-place finisher Czech Republic (1-2), Pool A fourth-place finisher Iran (0-3), Pool C fourth-place finisher Japan (0-3) and Pool B fourth-place finisher Nigeria (0-3).

The American men concluded Olympic Pool A preliminary round play with a 2-1 record, losing  their opening game to France 83-76 and recording victories over Iran 120-66 and Czech Republic 119-84.

The USA’s quarterfinal opponent, Spain, defeated Japan 88-77 and Argentina 81-71, and lost to Slovenia 95-87 in Group C preliminary play.

The XXXII Olympic Games men’s basketball competition is being held July 23-Aug. 7 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic men’s basketball tournament features a different format than in past Games.

The 12 competing men’s teams were drawn into three groups of four teams apiece for preliminary play that was contested July 27-Aug. 3. Following completion of the preliminary round, the top two finishing teams from each pool and the two best third-place teams, according to FIBA’s placement rules, qualified for the medal round and were re-seeded.

The U.S. men have won the gold medal in the last three Olympics and have medaled in all 18 Olympics in which they have competed, including 15 gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals. The Americans currently own an impressive 140-6 all-time record (.956 winning percentage) in Olympic action. Since NBA players began representing the United States in 1992, the USA is 53-3 in the previous seven Olympics, capturing six gold medals and one bronze medal.

Photo: Team USA

Keldon Johnson on role with Team USA: ‘I’m here to be the energy guy’

USA Basketball Men’s National Team got off to a rocky start during their series of exhibitions games in Las Vegas. Team USA lost their first two games to Nigeria and Australia but won its final two, including defeating a very good Spain team 83-76 on Sunday night.

Keldon Johnson, who was recently added to Team USA, was huge in this contest. The Spurs forward scored 10 of his 15 points in the third quarter, and Team USA, who trailed throughout the game until an 11-0 run helped the team take complete control in the third quarter.

“Just being active, being a spark,” said Johnson of his performance. “I’m here to be the energy guy and bring life to the team whenever we need it. In the third quarter when I came in, we needed a spark.”

Team USA and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich added: “Keldon Johnson just played a really He shot if he was open, he made cuts to the bucket. When he did go to the bucket, he was very physical. And he was solid in the half-court defense. So, he had a very, very good night.”

Damian Lillard scored 19 points, Johnson had 15, Kevin Durant added 14, and Zach LaVine tallied 13 points for the USA, which heads to Tokyo on Monday and will face France in its Olympic opener on July 25. The Americans have won the past three Olympic gold medals. Ricky Rubio led Spain with 23 points.

According to Popovich, after a slow start, Team USA is starting to come together.

“We just had our sixth practice the other day,” Popovich said. “And after these exhibition games, that’s what we look for — getting better at both ends of the court, learning how to play with each other, because these guys have never played together before. And I think we’re on the right track in that regard, so that’s what I feel good about.”

Team USA has played better in the last two games, and if they come together, talent-wise, there’s no better.

Photo: Team USA

Spurs’ Johnson: ‘I’m blessed and honored to be an Olympian’

The Summer of 2021 could be special times for Spurs F Keldon Johnson. On Friday, Johnson was named to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball roster.

Johnson, along with JaVale McGee, were named to the Team USA roster after Kevin Love decided to withdraw from the Olympics and Bradley Beal being unable to play due to health and safety protocols.

The 21-year-old Johnson is the third player in San Antonio franchise history to be named to the U.S. Olympic team after playing for the Spurs, joining David Robinson (1992, 1996) and Tim Duncan (2004). He also becomes the 32nd player in Spurs history to suit up for San Antonio and represent their country at the Olympics.

“I’m blessed and honored to be an Olympian,” Johnson said to reporters via a Zoom call on Friday. 

Originally named to the 2021 USA Basketball Select Team on July 1, Johnson participated in the national team’s training camp in Las Vegas and played in two exhibition games, averaging 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds against Australia and Argentina.

Being around many great players will be very beneficial to Johnson, which he discussed on Friday.

“I’m definitely learning something new every day,” he said. “I feel like I’m around a lot of great players and some of the best players in the league, so just if I don’t understand something, asking questions. Just seeing things that they do different than what I would do. Just learning from it and putting my own spin on it. I think just being around these guys and being able to go and compete against them in practice and then play with them in a game really is teaching me a lot about basketball.”

In his second season with the Spurs, Johnson averaged 12.8 points and 6.0 rebounds in 28.5 minutes in being named to the 2021 NBA Rising Stars Roster. He became the first player in his first two seasons to average at least 12.0 points and 6.0 rebounds since Duncan in 1998-99.

Team USA, coached by Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, will compete in the Summer Olympic Games from July 23 through Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan.

Listen below as Johnson reacts to joining Team USA:

 

Johnson, McGee added to Team USA, Love withdraws

USA Basketball announced on Friday the addition of USA Select Team guard Keldon Johnson (San Antonio Spurs) and NBA veteran center JaVale McGee (Denver Nuggets) to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball roster. Johnson and McGee fill openings created after Bradley Beal went into health and safety protocol and following Kevin Love’s announcement Friday morning that he was withdrawing from the team due to his ongoing calf recovery.

The pair join previously announced U.S. Olympic Team 2020 members: Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets), Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks) and Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics).

Because of their current involvement in the 2021 NBA Finals, Booker, Holiday, and Middleton will join the USA squad after completion of the Finals.

The USA coaching staff is led by head coach Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) with assistant coaches Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors), Lloyd Pierce, and Jay Wright (Villanova University).

Johnson, a 6-foot-5 guard, attended the national team’s Las Vegas training camp as a member of the USA Select Team and was added to the USA roster for the team’s exhibition games. He has seen action in two of the USA’s three exhibition games in Las Vegas, averaging 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Having completed his second season with the Spurs in 2020-21, he started 67 of the 69 games he played in and averaged 12.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

A 7-foot center, McGee completed in 2020-21 his 13th NBA regular season. Playing 33 games in 2020-21 for the Cleveland Cavaliers and 13 games for the Denver Nuggets, McGee averaged 7.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocked shots per game.

The rescheduled Summer Olympic Games are being held July 23-Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan. Twelve nations will compete in the Olympic men’s basketball competition that will be held at the Saitama Super Arena. In addition, to host Japan, nations qualified for the Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball competition include Argentina, Australia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Nigeria, Slovenia, Spain, and the United States. 

The American men will open the Olympic preliminary round play on July 25 against France (8 a.m. EDT), then will play Iran on July 28 (12:40 a.m. EDT) and will close out preliminary play on July 31 (8:00 a.m. EDT) versus the Czech Republic.