The official roster for the USA National Basketball Team that will complete in the 2014 FIBA World Cup was released Friday night, and two former Duke University basketball standouts, Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets), are on the final roster of 12 players. The rest of the team is composed of: DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings); Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans); DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors); Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons); Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets); Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings); James Harden (Houston Rockets); Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls); and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors).
USA Basketball National Team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo, who put the team together along with Team USA and Duke Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski, had this to say about this year’s selection process: “Since taking over the USA Basketball Men’s National Team program in 2005, this was without doubt the most difficult selection process we’ve gone through,” said Colangelo. “I can’t stress enough the outstanding effort and commitment that has been given by each finalist. I also want to make it clear that this is not just about talent – each player is incredibly talented and each player offered us unique skills. In the end it was about assembling the best team, selecting guys who we felt would be able to best play the kind of style we envision this team playing.” Coach K also mentioned how difficult the decision process was to trim the roster from 16 to 12, but also noted that “[He's] excited about the 12 players selected and feel we have excellent versatility and the makings of a really good defensive team.”
Both Irving and Plumlee played well during Team USA’s training camp, practices, and exhibition games against Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Kyrie Irving averaged a total of 9.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game in the three exhibition games. Irving was also in the starting lineup for the last two games in place of guard Derrick Rose, who did not play against the Dominican Republic to rest and came off of the bench against Puerto Rico.
Mason Plumlee, who was moved up from the USA Select Team to the National Team, averaged 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game in two of the three exhibition game wins (DNP vs. Dominican Republic). There was a lot of debate going on about whether or not Plumlee should make the team due to his inexperience in the NBA and the other options at center, but the coaching staff decided to go with him over the likes of Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver, Damian Lillard, and Gordon Hayward, taking an extra big in preparation for a possible medal round game vs. host country Spain.
Team USA will have one last tune-up exhibition game against Slovenia on August 26th in Gran Canaria, Spain before the FIBA tournament begins. Be sure to look out for Plumlee and Irving on Team USA in the FIBA World Cup as the United States works defend their gold medal from the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey beginning on August 30th.