The US basketball team, which would seal its ticket to the World Cup if it beats Uruguay in its next game, would play its games in Manila and would not have to travel during the tournament.
FIBA announced on Monday that the three World Cup venues have chosen the teams they prefer to host. This World Cup edition will take place in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan next summer.
Each of these nations could choose the team they preferred to host in the group stage.
The Philippines opted for the United States, Japan opted for Luka Doncic’s Slovenia and Indonesia chose Canada, led by Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse and whose cast would include some NBA players such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jamal murray.
“I like to think that this can play to our advantage,” US team chief administrative officer Grant Hill said. “I think we have to be aware and respectful that these players travel by plane throughout the regular season and move from city to city, bed to bed and hotel to hotel. It’s a lot of wear and tear… I think once we get there and settle in, we can put down roots for a couple of weeks. It seems to me something that can give us a certain advantage.”
Slovenia will play the group stage matches in Okinawa, and Canada in Jakarta. Okinawa is about 1,450 kilometers (900 miles) from Manila, while Jakarta is 2,735 kilometers (1,700 miles) from the Philippine capital.
Each of the groups that will be based in Japan and Indonesia will send two qualified teams to the Philippines, where the final phase of the tournament will be held. The other four nations that will play that final instance will have already played the group round in Manila.
A total of 32 teams will contest the tournament, including 14 in the Philippines.
“Each host could choose a preferred team based on commercial reasons, since their decision will not affect the integrity of the event or the draw process,” FIBA clarified on Monday.
Slovenia and Canada are among 17 teams that have already qualified for the tournament. The rest will be defined in February. The United States does not yet have its ticket, but it seems very close to getting it.
They are 8-2 in their knockout matches, for which they have employed players from the G League and international clubs. The World Cup squad would have NBA players.
A victory against Uruguay on February 23 or one against Brazil three days later would be enough for the US team to secure their ticket.
The only way the United States could miss out on the World Cup—which represents the main route to the 2024 Olympics in Paris—would be by losing both games in February, combined with four other results, and the qualifying criteria tiebreaker were unfavorable.
The draw for the World Cup will be held on April 29 in Manila. The tournament begins on August 25.
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Manila chooses to host the US in the Basketball World Cup