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Team USA thrilled to play in Manila

The United States men’s basketball team is excited to play in Manila for the preliminaries of the FIBA Basketball World Cup from 25 August to 10 September next year.

Team USA director Sean Ford said playing in Manila has a lot of advantages as far as their title campaign in the World Cup is concerned.

During the previous staging of this prestigious tourney in 2019, the Americans stayed in Shanghai for 10 days to play in the group stage.

Then, they took a two-hour flight to Shenzhen to compete in the second round before moving to Dongguan for the final round where they lost to Serbia in the classification phase.

Team USA suffered yet another loss to France in the quarterfinals that sent it to the playoff for seventh place in Beijing, which is three hours away from Dongguan.

“Movements take a lot out of our team,” Ford told The Athletic in a report.

“It’s a lot to pack all your stuff up and move it and then get into a new routine in the new hotel. And then you have a new room, a new meal room, new elevator, a new bus, a new route to the arena, a new gym, a new locker room, like all that stuff. And so, being in one location is a good thing.”

In a statement on Monday, the International Basketball Federation announced that the Americans will play its group stage in Manila while Slovenia will see action in Okinawa and Canada in Jakarta.

Okinawa is around 1,450 kilometers from Manila while Jakarta is 2,735 kilometers, putting the Slovenians and Canadians at a great disadvantage should they qualify for the final round that will be held at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

The Americans, on the other hand will be playing the preliminaries at either the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City or Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, which means that they will take just a very short bus ride to Philippine Arena for the final round.

Team USA managing director Grant Hill stressed that being assigned in Manila will work to their advantage.

“I would like to think it works to our advantage,” Hill, a former National Basketball Association superstar, said.

“I think we have to be mindful and respectful that these players are on airplanes all throughout the regular season and kind of move from city to city, bed to bed, hotel to hotel.”

“It’s a grind. I think once we get there, and we get settled, we can kind of plant some roots for a couple of weeks. I think it is something that can work to our advantage.”

The Americans have yet to formally qualify in the World Cup.

In fact, Team USA, which is composed of G League players and former NBA journeymen, bowed to Brazil in a window of the FIBA World Cup Americas Qualifiers that denied it of a chance to formally enter the prestigious tourney and knocked it out of its lofty position as the No. 1 team in the world.

Still, FIBA is confident that the Americans will make it and they will send their best players, or the superstars of the National Basketball Association, to the World Cup.

“I can tell you that the emphasis we are putting together with our NBA colleagues on having an excellent roster (for Team USA) next year in the men’s World Cup is the priority of the discussions,” FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis said.

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