Team USA trims down for FIBA run

Four players, including guard Mike Miller, and forwards Kevin Durant, Tyson Chandler and Nick Collision, found themselves squarely on the bubble as the final round of cuts for the US National Team approached. In the end, Durant and Collision will be staying at home, as the US basketball team begins its long run back to Olympic gold, beginning with the FIBA Americas Tournament.

As much as we’ve been touting Kevin Durant, ever since the first game he stepped on the court wearing a Texas Longhorns uniform, he is too young and inexperienced for international basketball – besides, the team has too many experienced NBA pros with similar skills in Kobe, Carmelo and LeBron. Team USA did well in picking a shooter and a shot-blocker to round out the squad.

The FIBA Americas Tournament begins for Team USA with a game on Wednesday, August 22 against Venezuela. The game will be shown at 11pm Eastern Time on either ESPN Classic or ESPN 360 – it will be replayed on Thursday, August 23 at 1am Eastern on ESPN2 and 12pm Eastern on NBA TV. A full TV schedule can be found here.

The national team isn’t without its faults, but we’re more excited and confident in this Team USA squad than we have been in quite some time. Part of it is because of the depth and addition of shooters like Michael Redd and Mike Miller, but it mainly has to do with the fact that Kobe is finally playing for the national team. On a nightly basis he puts a mediocre Los Angeles Lakers team on his shoulder and refuses to let them lose. Imagine how valuable he’ll be in the 4th quarter of games on the national stage.

"Kobe is as good a player as there is on the planet and he's a team oriented player," said Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "He's just as good defensively as he is offensively. That's a nice thing to have."

Joining Kobe on Team USA for the FIBA Americas Tournament will be: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudamire, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Michael Redd, Mike Miller, Tyson Chandler, Tayshaun Prince and Deron Williams.

We can’t wait for tip-off against Venezuela!

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