MANILA (AFP) — United States captain Jalen Brunson said Thursday that egos will be “left at the door” as the Americans try to regain the Basketball World Cup after a disastrous performance four years ago.
The 32-team competition tips off on Friday in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, with the US beginning their campaign against New Zealand a day later.
The Americans, who will play in Group C in Manila, are looking to set the record straight after slumping to a seventh-place finish at the 2019 tournament in China.
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr has picked a young and talented squad for this year’s competition and Brunson said they have “one common goal, which is to win.”
“Every time we step out on the court it’s about how can we be better than we were yesterday, that’s been our mindset,” said the New York Knicks guard.
“We have a lot of guys who come from different situations and play different styles of basketball but here, egos are left at the door. We all just want to win.”
Brunson is joined in the US squad by NBA All-Star guards Anthony “Ant-Man” Edwards of Minnesota and Tyrese Haliburton of Indiana, and Austin Reaves of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Also present are 2022 NBA All-Defensive Team swingman Mikal Bridges of Brooklyn, New Orleans forward Brandon Ingram and 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero of Orlando.
Kerr said his players were “hungry and on the rise.”
“We’ve got a really good group that is enjoying the process together and working hard every day,” said Kerr, who served as an assistant to Gregg Popovich at the 2019 World Cup and at the Tokyo Olympics two years later.
“We’re trying to get better every day and be prepared because we know difficult the tournament will be.”
The Americans go into the tournament with a perfect winning record from their five tune-up games.
That included a victory over defending champions Spain and a remarkable comeback against Germany, where the US trailed by 16 points late in the third quarter.
Kerr conceded that the international game was “totally different from the NBA” but said he had picked players who “could be a team in a short period of time.”