USA NBA stars to play in Australia before 2019 World Cup
By Agence France-Presse
A United States squad of NBA stars will play two exhibition games against Australia in Melbourne next year ahead of the Basketball World Cup in China, USA Basketball announced Saturday.
The two-time defending world champion Americans will face Australia on August 22 and 24, 2019 at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium before going to China in quest of an unprecedented third consecutive crown on August 31-September 15.
“These games will not only be important in the USA’s World Cup preparations, but they renew a special international basketball rivalry,” USA Basketball chief executive Jim Tooley said.
The Aussie Boomers last faced a US NBA squad at the 2016 Rio Olympics, staying with the Americans almost to the end of a 98-88 preliminary round victory for the US lineup that went on to claim gold.
“The USA-Australia game at the 2016 Rio Olympics was intense, passionate and a very competitive game that came down to the final minutes,” Tooley said. “We expect these friendlies in 2019 will again showcase international basketball at its highest level.”
NBA San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will guide the US team through the 2020 Olympics and his 2019 World Cup squad is expected to consist of many of the same players who will try to defend the Olympic title in Tokyo.
“I’m thrilled Basketball Australia will be hosting the USA Basketball men’s national team in Australia for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Olympics,” Basketball Australia chief executive Anthony Moore said.
“I believe that this event will be long remembered in Australian sporting history.”
US men have a 19-game World Cup win streak, last losing 101-95 to Greece in the 2006 semi-finals in Japan — the only US loss for NBA talent since the American program was revamped after settling for bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics.