By Cesare Milanti / firstname.lastname@example.org
MANILA, Philippines – The first Group phase of the 2023 FIBA World Cup is now in the history books, with Team USA advancing with a 3-0 to the second round, where they will face Montenegro and Lithuania.
While the second team counts on the naturalized Ignas Bradzeikis – who, despite his Lithuanian roots, played with Canada at a young age -, Montenegro relies a lot on the American native playmaker Kendrick Perry, who has been helping the Balkan side, especially against Mexico and Egypt.
After facing Thomas Walkup with Greece and Jordan’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, then, the American national team will have to deal with another countryman who wears the jersey of another place in the world.
Being asked how he feels about his ongoing situation, Team USA’s head coach Steve Kerr kept it simple. “I don’t mind it at all, I think it’s a great opportunity for those guys to play in FIBA. Almost every team we play against feels like they have one American player on board, it’s the rule for FIBA and it’s fine for us. I like the opportunity for those players”, he commented on guys like Perry and Walkup.
The same question was directed to Tyrese Haliburton and Mikal Bridges. The latter said “It’s a very different feeling, and surely a very cool thing”, explaining that “That’s dope, it’s cool to see them representing several countries and showing out their different types of pride”.
The former, guard of the Indiana Pacers, said it’s a cool opportunity for those guys. “I think that’s cool because those are guys that you’d probably not see making the US team. Some of those guys, whether it’s Walkup with Greece, Perry with Montenegro, or Hollis-Jefferson with Jordan, have ties with the country already”, Tyrese Haliburton said.
“I think it’s cool for them to play on the international level and be impactful for other countries. I look forward to the challenge tomorrow, and anytime we play anybody. It’s cool when Americans get this kind of opportunity and figure out how to show their talents internationally”, he added.
PHOTO CREDIT: 2023 FIBA World Cup