Gordon Hayward is a step closer to basketball’s World Cup.
The Utah Jazz swingman survived a first round of cuts, and will be one of 16 finalists to continue training with the national team in Chicago later this month. The cuts come after a three-day camp in Las Vegas.
Team USA basketball final 16
» DeMarcus Cousins
» Stephen Curry
» Anthony Davis
» DeMar DeRozan
» Andre Drummond
» Kevin Durant
» Kenneth Faried
» James Harden
» Gordon Hayward
» Kyrie Irving
» Kyle Korver
» Damian Lillard
» Chandler Parsons
» Mason Plumlee
» Derick Rose
» Klay Thompson
"We’ve said all along that we would be proud to have any of the players who were in Las Vegas represent USA Basketball and the United States. This phase of the selection process was extremely difficult and very thorough, and it’s worth again mentioning that we are looking to select the best team, which are not necessarily the best players," USA Basketball National Team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo said in a news release Tuesday. "We’re pleased with where we are at this point of our training and we’re looking forward to getting back on the court and continuing our preparations to represent the United States at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup."
Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal and former Jazz forward Paul Millsap were the three players cut after the Las Vegas camp.
Hawks guard and former Jazz man Kyle Korver and former Weber State star Damian Lillard will join Hayward in Chicago starting Aug. 14.
The finalists will practice for two days before playing an exhibition against Brazil on Aug. 16.
"We’re excited about where the team is headed. Really all 16 guys have a chance to make the team, which usually does not happen in a training camp, and it shows that all of the guys thus far have done an excellent job," USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Then it’s just a matter of finding what chemistry that we can develop with the entire group and I don’t think we’ll know that until we play some exhibition games. The 16 guys give us a chance to look at a way of playing in a number of different ways and we just have to figure out what those ways are and then the 12 who will fit best."
Those cuts will likely be made only after the U.S. has completed its exhibition schedule in New York City on Aug. 22.
The Las Vegas camp’s conclusion was marred by Indiana forward Paul George’s broken leg, an injury suffered when he landed with his foot partially on the basketball stanchion after trying to block a shot.
"The ending to our Las Vegas training camp with the injury to Paul George was very emotional for everyone involved in USA Basketball," Colangelo said. "I very much appreciate the outpouring of support Paul and USA Basketball has received the past couple of days from the basketball world. Past Olympic coaches and some of our past Olympic and World Championship players have reached out offering their continued support and that’s very important. Paul’s injury was an extremely unfortunate occurrence; it was truly a freak accident. We’re all very pleased that his recovery is going well."
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