The JungleAugust 19, 2019
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9min0

The champagne hadn’t even been popped in Oakland, nor had the podium been constructed on the Oracle Arena floor when I began weaving my way through a swarm of rowdy Raptors fans. Grown men began embracing, and spilt beer seeped through my shirt, onto my skin, as celebrations of Toronto’s maiden NBA title officially got underway.

The sports bar where I had elected to watch Game 6 — ultimately the decider of the 2019 NBA Finals — wasn’t in Toronto. It wasn’t in Oakland, either. Heck, I was 13,000 kilometres away from San Francisco’s Bay Area, smack bang in the middle of Melbourne, Australia, a culturally diverse city that has become famous for colourful street art, trams, coffee and, in recent times, overpriced smashed avocado on toast.

It was after making a beeline for the exit and being spat out onto bustling Elizabeth Street during the lunchtime rush hour when I saw something that immediately stopped me in my tracks.

Parked on the side of Melbourne’s busiest inner-city road was a 2011 Maranello red Holden Captiva, fitted with custom purple and grey Sacramento Kings seat covers. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks and my morning of basketball viewing had tainted my vision. Surely it must have been the popular and similar-sounding Adventure Kings brand, right? Nope. A closer inspection confirmed it was indeed the NBA franchise from the west coast of the United States.

It has been 68 years since the Kings, or Rochester Royals as they were once upon a time known, won their first and only NBA championship. They’ve never had a notable Australian on their roster and wouldn’t even feature on the podium of the most supported and global California-based NBA franchises. Yet here, in Melbourne, were these car seat covers. Somehow this NBA minnow had reached the other side of the world.

That’s when it hit me: Melbourne has truly become a basketball city, and the fresh sporting-cum-fashion culture that goes hand-in-hand is sweeping through at a rapid rate.


In the spring of 2012, an out-of-contract Chris Goulding inked a deal that would see him join the Melbourne Tigers.

The Tasmanian, who at the time was just 23 and beginning to forge a career in the NBL, had already played in Brisbane, Perth and on the Gold Coast, but Melbourne was noticeably different. Melbourne was, and remains, a city that has a unique love for everything basketball and one that embraces the culture of the sport.

These days, you can’t ride the train, take a stroll through the city or even do your weekly grocery shopping run without spotting someone wearing an NBA jersey or cap.

“I don’t know if I was taking much notice when I first arrived, but over the last five or so years, basketball’s popularity in Melbourne has surged dramatically,” Goulding says. “Whether it’s wearing your favourite player on the back of a jersey or walking down the street dribbling a basketball, every time you go out, you see it. It’s definitely more prevalent than in other Australian cities.”

Chris Goulding has spent seven years playing basketball in Melbourne and believes the city’s basketball culture is completely different than any other place’s. Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Now a two-time NBL champion and one of the league’s most decorated players, Goulding knows Melbourne and basketball as well as anyone. He claims the city is “the heartland of basketball in Australia,” and with diversity and culture being staples of Melbourne life, it’s little wonder we see so much basketball merchandise out on the streets.

After all, Melbourne is a city that encourages self-expression, however that may be, and the rapidly growing trend in recent times has been through NBA jerseys, sneakers, shoes and caps.

“Culturally, basketball has been associated with street and fashion for years,” Goulding says as he proudly grabs a handful of his Melbourne United polyester jersey. “You see the way it’s integrated in pop culture, and you see all kinds of artists wearing basketball gear. It has become a fashion item, a fashion statement. It’s easy to throw on a plain white shirt and whack your favourite player’s jersey over the top.

“I still remember the first jersey I ever had. It was the Shaquille O’Neal Orlando Magic jersey which my dad bought for me. From there I followed him to the Lakers and became a big fan of a guy by the name of Kobe Bryant. Ever heard of him? By the time I was in my early 20s, I had so many singlets.”

The fashionable element is what separates NBA gear from almost any other sporting merchandise, particularly Australian sporting merchandise.

In Melbourne, there are nine Aussie Rules teams that combine for a staggering 550,000 paid members. Just think about that for a second. Almost one in nine Melburnians are season-ticket holders for their favourite football team.

But despite the mass following and enormous popularity, wearing AFL merchandise, whether it be beanies, scarves or jerseys, is almost viewed as uncool. Outside of game day, and maybe away from the pubs, AFL merchandise is almost never seen around the city. It’s the complete opposite with NBA gear.

Shaquille O’Neale’s Orlando Magic jersey was the first basketball singlet Chris Goulding ever owned. Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Hosier Lane, the graffiti-covered alleyway that sits in the southeast corner of Melbourne’s grid CBD, epitomizes the city and everything it stands for.

Art. Culture. Coffee. Fashion. Colour.

It’s no coincidence that a 14-foot Kobe Bryant mural — and not one of a legendary AFL player — has been plastered on the brick walls for thousands of tourists to snap photographs in front of. It’s what people want to see nowadays.

“The popularity of basketball in Melbourne is really, really high, and it’s just going to continue thriving and growing as popular leagues around the world become more accessible,” Goulding says. “There’s something about this city where all the elements just work together. It’s really exciting.”


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The JungleAugust 19, 2019
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2min0


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(as of Aug 19,2019 13:15:06 UTC – Details)



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The JungleAugust 19, 2019

10min0

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Maybe all it took was a trip back to their childhoods. It’s as good an explanation as any for the Chicago Cubs‘ finally winning a road series on Sunday with a 7-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Little League Classic. After a day and evening of being reminded what the game is all about, the Cubs finally, mercifully, won their first road series in exactly three months by taking two of three from the Pirates.

“I would imagine every major league team would like to do this,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of coming to Williamsport. “It is exciting. It is pure. It is what it’s supposed to look like.”

It could be just what the Cubs needed. The pressure of yet another pennant race doesn’t apply to the Pirates, who have fallen far out of the hunt since the All-Star break. They’ve played at Williamsport before and probably will again, given their proximity. But for the Cubs, it was a one-day respite. Yes, they had to take the game at night seriously — but not the entire day.

“I’m really a tough routine guy,” winning pitcher Jose Quintana said. “I always do the same thing before the game. But today was really special. I said hello to the kids. It was different.”

The Cubs needed something different in their road life, as it has been the grind of all grinds away from home. With Sunday’s win, Chicago improved to just 25-39 away from home this season. But on Sunday, there was no one reminding them of that record — only of what the game is all about.

play

1:07

Javier Baez talks about the joy he has playing baseball and how he wants kids to enjoy the game while they’re playing.

“It was really special,” Javy Baez said. “I came to the Little League World Series when I was young. We didn’t have this experience. We didn’t have major league players around. It was cool for them and for us too.

“It kind of brought us together. In the dugout, out of the dugout. Being around the kids, it was pretty cool.”

You could tell by the interactions that went on throughout the afternoon that this wasn’t going to be a night when the Cubs would play tight. They could have lost the game just the same, but perhaps it’s no coincidence that they ended a 90-day road series drought on the same day they were sliding down a hill on cardboard boxes and letting Little Leaguers hold their bats while in the on-deck circle.

Team president Theo Epstein was asked what this day could mean for his team moving forward.

“It can’t hurt,” he said before the victory. “Everyone had fun today. The routine can get a little monotonous. Breaking it up and doing it in a way that makes everyone happy and reminds everyone how fortunate we are to still be playing this game, it’s pretty cool.”

Wouldn’t it be something if getting back to their 12-year-old selves was the key to unlocking what has held the Cubs back, especially on the road? Even with the trip including back-to-back, heartbreaking, ninth-inning blown leads, the Cubs return home on a high note — not just from the series win, against the last-place Pirates, but because they had fun and won. Isn’t that what the Little League World Series is all about?

play

1:14

Anthony Rizzo and Joe Maddon take part in the Little League World Series tradition of sliding down the hill on a piece of cardboard.

“For our team, it was a blessing in disguise to play and get out of our routine on the road,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “To win this road series means a lot.”

Like Baez, Rizzo is known as a big kid at heart. Surviving cancer will do that to you. As he watched others sled down the hill on cardboard boxes behind the main LLWS stadium, he couldn’t resist joining in. There was no resisting anything on this day. Quintana’s regimented routine was thrown out the window, as was everything about a typical major league game.

And the Cubs loved it. Just as importantly, they needed it.

“We do well when we’re relaxed,” Rizzo said. “Today was a fun day.”

Epstein added: “It put a smile on everybody’s faces. Hopefully that carries over. Whether it helps us or not, it was worth doing.”

No one can argue with that.

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The JungleAugust 19, 2019
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19min0


As most kids begin preparing for a return to school, a few select 11- and 12-year-old baseball players prolong their summer and head to South Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the 2019 Little League World Series.

The 73rd Little League World Series lasts 10 days, beginning Aug. 15, and features a 16-team field consisting of eight U.S. and eight international teams, facing off in a double-elimination tournament that culminates in the championship game Aug. 25.

Last year, Hawaii defeated South Korea to win the the tournament, the second time in the last three years that an American team has won.

While not every player competing in the World Series is destined for careers in Major League Baseball, some of the game’s more notable names such as Cody Bellinger, Michael Conforto, Randal Grichuk and Todd Frazier all share roots of playing in the Little League World Series.

MORE LLWS 2019: Full schedule | Scores

2019 Little League World Series bracket

Little League World Series 2019 bracket

You can download a PDF of the full 2019 Little League World Series bracket here.

Little League World Series teams, rosters

Two brackets of eight teams – one international and one for the United States – compete in a double-elimination style tournament. The winner of each bracket faces off in a winner-take-all championship game. Each of the 16 teams represent geographic regions that the teams had to win a regional tournament in order to qualify for the World Series.

United States teams

Region Team Location
Great Lakes Bowling Green Eastern LL Bowling Green, Kentucky
Mid-Atlantic Elmora Youth LL Elizabeth, New Jersey
Midwest Coon Rapids Andover American LL Coon Rapids, Minnesota
New England Barrington LL Barrington, Rhode Island
Northwest Sprague LL Salem, Oregon
Southeast Loudoun South American LL South Riding, Virginia
Southwest Eastbank LL River Ridge, Louisiana
West Central East Maui LL Wailuku, Hawaii

International teams

Region Team Location
Asia-Pacific Chung Nam LL South Chungcheong, South Korea
Australia Cronulla LL Sydney, Australia
Canada Coquitlam LL Coquitlam, British Columbia
Caribbean Pabao LL Willemstad, Curacao
Europe-Africa Emilia Romagna LL Bologna, Italy
Japan Chofu LL Chofu City, Japan
Latin America Cacique Mara LL Maracaibo, Venezuela
Mexico Epitacio “Mara” Torres LL Guadalupe, Nuevo León

Little League World Series location

Little League World Series games are played inside two stadiums in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Howard J. Lamade Stadium has hosted every LLWS since 1959. In 2001, Little League Volunteer Stadium was added to accommodate an expanded field and more games.

Ages for Little League World Series players

This year’s World Series will not feature any teenagers. A new rule, announced in 2015 but not effective until this season, changed the eligibility dates of players’ birthdays from Dec. 31 to Aug. 31, thus eliminating any 13-year-olds. Last year, 85 of the 213 players were 13 years old.

For the first time ever, the tournament will instead consist of only players aged 11 and 12 years old.

What is the LLWS pitch count limit?

One of the biggest factors in determining a team’s ability to win is whether or not they have an ace on the mound. In an effort to protect young arms, Little League has a strict pitch count rule, requiring managers to strategically use their players wisely on the mound for the games and situations that matter most.

Any player on a team can pitch during a game, with the exception of someone who has played four or more innings as a catcher. A pitcher removed from the mound may remain in the game and play a different position.

Below is a chart of the different pitch-count thresholds and days of rest required. If a pitcher reaches a new threshold while facing a batter, the player can continue to pitch until the batter is retired.

# of pitches Days of rest
66-85 4
51-65 3
36-50 2
21-35 1
1-20 0

Little League World Series field size

  • 46 feet: Pitching rubber to home plate
  • 60 feet: Length of basepaths
  • 225 feet: Home plate to outfield fence

Both stadiums have twin fields about two-thirds the size of conventional MLB ballparks. The fences are 225 feet from home plate at all points of the outfield. In the infield, the pitching rubber is 46 feet from home plate with 60-foot basepaths.

The first girl since Mo’ne Davis in 2014 is playing

Maddy Freking of Minnesota Coon Rapids Andover American Little League will be the first girl to play in the Little League World Series since Mo’ne Davis pitched her way into the spotlight in 2014. Freking plays second base. She will be the 19th girl to play in the now 73-year history of the LLWS and is the first from Minnesota since Krissy Wendell in 1994.

Who won the LLWS in 2018?

Honolulu, Hawaii won the Little League World Series last year, defeating South Korea 3-0 in the championship game. Hawaii has sent four teams to the World Series title game since 2005. The state will again represent the West region with Central East Maui Little League earning a trip to the tournament.

U.S. teams are seeking to win consecutive championships for the first time since a stretch of five in a row from 2005-09. The U.S. is just 17-35 all time against international teams in the championship.

List of past Little League World Series champions

Taiwan leads all countries and states with 17 LLWS titles. California leads all states with seven titles, trailing just Taiwan’s 17 and Japan’s 11 for the most all time.

Year Winner
1947 Williamsport, Pa.
1948 Lock Haven, Pa.
1949 Hammonton, N.J.
1951 Stamford, Conn.
1952 Norwalk, Conn.
1953 Birmingham, Ala.
1954 Schenectady, N.Y.
1955 Morrisville, Pa.
1956 Roswell, N.M.
1957 Monterrey, Mexico
1958 Monterrey, Mexico
1959 Hamtramck, MI
1960 Levittown, Pa.
1961 El Cajon, Calif.
1962 San Jose, Calif.
1963 Granada Hills, Calif.
1964 Staten Island, N.Y.
1965 Windsor Locks, Conn.
1966 Houston, TX
1967 West Tokyo, Japan
1968 Wakayama, Osaka, Japan
1969 Taichung, Taiwan
1970 Wayne, N.J.
1971 Tainan, Taiwan
1972 Taipei, Taiwan
1973 Tainan, Taiwan
1974 Kaohsiung, Taiwan
1975 Lakewood, N.J.
1976 Chofu, Tokyo, Japan
1977 Kahosiung, Taiwan
1978 Pingtung, Taiwan
1979 Chiayi County, Taiwan
1980 Hua-Lien, Taiwan
1981 Taichung, Taiwan
1982 Kirkland, Wash.
1983 Marietta, GA
1984 Seoul, South Korea
1985 Seoul, South Korea
1986 Tainan, Taiwan
1987 Hua-Lien, Taiwan
1988 Taichung, Taiwan
1989 Trumbull, Conn.
1990 Tainan County, Taiwan
1991 Taichung, Taiwan
1992 Long Beach, Calif.
1993 Long Beach, Calif.
1994 Maracaibo, Venezuela
1995 Tainan, Taiwan
1996 Kaohsiung, Taiwan
1997 Guadalupe, Mexico
1998 Toms River, N.J.
1999 Hirakata, Osaka, Japan
2001 Maracaibo, Venezuela
2002 Valley Station, KY
2003 Musashi-Fuchu, Tokyo, Japan
2004 Willemstad, Curacao
2005 Ewa Beach, HI
2006 Columbus, GA
2007 Warner Robins, GA
2008 Waipahu, HI
2009 Chula Vista, Calif.
2010 Edogawa Minami, Tokyo, Japan
2011 Huntington Beach, Calif.
2012 Tokyo Kitasuna, Tokyo, Japan
2013 Musashi Fuchu, Tokyo, Japan
2014 Seoul, South Korea
2015 Tokyo Kitasuna, Tokyo, Japan
2016 Maine-Endwell, N.Y.
2017 Tokyo Kitasuna, Tokyo, Japan
2018 Honolulu, HI

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The JungleAugust 19, 2019
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5min0


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The JungleAugust 18, 2019
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9min0

With the platform of USA Basketball’s road to the FIBA Basketball World Cup in store, several players have looked to turn heads with their patriotic pairs during the team’s training camp and early exhibition games.

For Kyle Kuzma and P.J. Tucker, it could be their final stretch in Nike sneakers, as both will be among this fall’s most sought-after sneaker free agents, with their current swoosh endorsement deals set to expire in late September.

Both have been wearing exclusive pairs of the Kobe 4 Protro in navy, red and white so far, with Kuzma expected to continue carrying the torch for the former Los Angeles Lakers legend’s signature sneaker line as he continues on with the national team.

After suffering an ankle injury just before team USA’s exhibition win over Spain, Tucker was forced to withdraw — a personal disappointment for the 34 year-old excited to represent his country, and a letdown for sneakerheads looking forward to his rotation of FIBA footwear.

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, a fellow 2017 draft classmate of Kuzma’s, has kicked off his new sneaker deal with Jordan Brand during his time with USA Basketball, after officially transferring over from Nike’s basketball category to the Michael Jordan subsidiary in late June.

“I’ve been wearing Jordans since before I could walk, when I was 10 months old,” Tatum said. “Fast-forward 20 years later, now I’m a part of the brand.”

After a process that began at the start of the year — “a bunch of phone calls,” he jokes — Tatum welcomed the internal shift to become a Team Jordan member after just the second season of his rookie shoe deal with Nike.

“I told my mom, the only way athletes get to come to the brand is if Jordan approves,” he said. “Getting the approval from the greatest player of all time at 21 [years old] is an incredible feeling.”

When his mother asked what went into his thought process of accepting the transfer, it was apparently a straightforward decision.

“I was like, ‘Jordan knows who I am?’ Yeah, I’m down,” he said with a laugh.

In the week leading up to his official announcement, Tatum says 50 pairs of Jordans arrived on his doorstep. Several limited edition exclusives were packaged alongside recent performance models, along with a handful of his favorite Air Jordan 1 colorways.

During his time with USA Basketball, Tatum has helped to headline Jordan’s newest performance sneaker, the Jumpman Diamond, coincidentally, alongside his new brandmate and teammate in Kemba Walker. Each is wearing slightly different editions of the team shoe in navy, white and red accents, before they switch to green-based kicks for the regular season.

“The creativity and freedom that you can have over here, and the back and the forth with athletes is really creative and new in the basketball world,” Tatum said.

Though several of the NBA’s biggest stars with their own signature shoe opted against playing in this summer’s FIBA World Cup, that allowed for Donovan Mitchell to step in as the only USA Basketball player with his own signature model. The timing couldn’t be better, as Adidas just launched his debut D.O.N. Issue #1 sneaker, highlighted by an acronym short for “determination over negativity,” and complete with comic book themes.

Just as he did throughout the past NBA season, Mitchell continued his ongoing ritual of giving away his game-worn sneakers to fans, leaving a young boy in awe as he handed off his player exclusive navy and white Adidas signature shoe.

While both Tucker and Kuzma are just now beginning the early stages of their pending sneaker free agency, Celtics guard Marcus Smart might have already tipped his hand in Las Vegas on his next shoe deal. After originally signing with Adidas as a rookie in 2014, Smart was spotted in head-to-toe Puma gear as he arrived for USAB training camp, hardly a subtle move. The following day, he laced up Puma’s recent Uproar sneaker in white, blue and red, perhaps plainly foreshadowing his plans.

Talks between the two sides are ongoing, according to industry sources. With Puma-sponsored athlete Terry Rozier leaving the Celtics in free agency, the Boston-based basketball category of the company is said to have mutual interest in signing Smart to continue their local pro presence, once his Adidas deal officially expires Oct. 1.

Last but not least, head coach Gregg Popovich even turned heads during the team’s practices, breaking out a clean white and navy pair of the once mass friendly-turned-cult classic defining “dad shoe,” Nike’s Air Monarch. He even caught the attention of the league’s reigning sneaker champ.

“Pop killed me with the Air Monarchs!” Tucker said.

Check out all of the best sneakers worn so far during USA Basketball’s sessions leading up to the 2019 FIBA World Cup, and vote for your favorite pair in the poll below. For real-time sneaker updates and community discussions, join our SneakerCenter Facebook Group and follow us on Instagram.

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The JungleAugust 18, 2019

4min0

Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle was placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday with right knee tendinitis, a day after he blew his sixth save chance of the season.

Doolittle, 32, allowed three home runs and four runs in the ninth inning Saturday night against the Milwaukee Brewers to blow a three-run lead for the Nationals. Washington eventually lost the game 15-14 in 14 innings.

“He has always had knee issues,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Sunday, according to the Washington Times. “He can’t get on that front side like he wants to (on his delivery). I told him, ‘You are not letting anybody down. But we have to get you right.’ It came to a head.”

Martinez said Sunday that he he will play matchups with his bullpen in the ninth inning during Doolittle’s absence. But he made it clear that Doolittle will not lose his job.

“When he does come back, he’s our closer,” Martinez told reporters.

“I’m still searching for answers,” Doolittle said after Saturday’s game. “I don’t know. … It just wasn’t coming out tonight. That part of the order, that team, there’s just nowhere to hide.”

Right-hander Kyle McGowin was recalled from Double-A Harrisburg in a corresponding move.

The Nationals (66-56) currently hold the first wild-card spot in the National League, with a 1½-game lead over the Chicago Cubs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The JungleAugust 18, 2019
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7min0


Which NBA players will fill out the roster for Team USA ahead of the 2019 FIBA World Cup?

That’s the big question as head coach Gregg Popovich looks to lead Team USA to a FIBA three-peat. Several NBA stars have already passed on the opportunity to play for this year’s squad, so the path to another gold medal could be difficult with strong challengers hoping to upset the red, white and blue.

With the international tournament fast approaching, here’s a breakdown of Team USA’s roster and its FIBA World Cup schedule.

FIBA WORLD CUP 2019: Team Canada roster, game schedule

Team USA roster for 2019 FIBA World Cup

Player Position NBA Team
Harrison Barnes Forward Sacramento Kings
Jaylen Brown Forward Boston Celtics
Joe Harris Guard Brooklyn Nets
Kyle Kuzma Forward Los Angeles Lakers
Brook Lopez Center Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton Guard/Forward Milwaukee Bucks
Donovan Mitchell Guard Utah Jazz
Mason Plumlee Center Denver Nuggets
Marcus Smart Guard Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum Forward Boston Celtics
Myles Turner Center Indiana Pacers
Kemba Walker Guard Boston Celtics
Derrick White Guard San Antonio Spurs

Players not participating: Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), DeMarcus Cousins (Los Angeles Lakers), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets), De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings), Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers), Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), Blake Griffin (Detroit Pistons), James Harden (Houston Rockets), Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers), Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers), Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers), Paul Millsap (Denver Nuggets), Julius Randle (New York Knicks), JJ Redick (New Orleans Pelicans), Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors), PJ Tucker (Houston Rockets), Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets)

Team USA scrimmage schedule

Matchup Date Time
USA White vs. USA Blue Aug. 9 10 p.m. ET
USA vs. Spain Aug. 16 10 p.m. ET
USA vs. Australia Aug. 22 5:30 a.m. ET
USA vs. Australia Aug. 24 Midnight ET
USA vs. Canada Aug. 26 5:30 a.m. ET

Team USA schedule for 2019 FIBA World Cup

Matchup Date Time
USA vs. Czech Republic Sept. 1 8:30 a.m. ET
USA vs. Turkey Sept. 3 8:30 a.m. ET
USA vs. Japan Sept. 5 8:30 a.m. ET
Second round Sept. 6-9 TBD
Quarterfinals Sept. 10-11 TBD
Semifinals Sept. 13 TBD
Finals Sept. 15 TBD

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The JungleAugust 18, 2019
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5min0


Price: $49.09
(as of Aug 18,2019 13:13:09 UTC – Details)



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The JungleAugust 18, 2019
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6min0

In a surprising move, Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox has withdrawn from Team USA, managing director Jerry Colangelo told ESPN on Saturday.

The decision comes just hours before the group was scheduled to fly to Australia for exhibition games leading up to the FIBA World Cup in China.

Fox played a team-low six minutes in Friday night’s exhibition victory over Spain in Anaheim, California. He was a strong candidate to make the roster because he’d played so well over the past two weeks in practices and scrimmages.

“He makes fast people look not fast,” Marcus Smart said of Fox’s ability earlier this week.

Fox had been moved up from the Select Team during training camp and appeared to have solidified his role as a backup to starter Kemba Walker.

During USA Basketball’s 97-78 exhibition win over the select team on Aug. 6, Fox scored 12 points and had three rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in 15 minutes. He also made 6 of 9 shots, but Fox said Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich got on him for passing up shots.

His decision will likely mean Derrick White, who plays for Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs, will make the final roster as the team is now carrying just 13 players as it goes overseas.

Twelve will make the team.

“When you cut people from your regular NBA team, it’s difficult,” Popovich said earlier this week about making the final cut. “We’re going to have to do that. And it’s going to be even more so. I’m dreading having to do that. But it’s got to get done.”

There have been more than 50 NBA players linked to this World Cup team at some point in the last year or so, most of them dropping out of consideration on their own, citing schedule demands. A few others left the team due to injuries or injury concerns.

Only two players — the Miami Heat‘s Bam Adebayo and the Chicago BullsThaddeus Young — have actually been cut by Team USA.

“It just means that guys are doing their jobs,” the Milwaukee BucksKhris Middleton said after Friday’s game. “We’re making it as tough as it can be on them. I think guys have been great all camp, just being positive, bringing energy and playing as hard as they can, giving their body up for everybody else. So that’s a huge thing for everybody.

“From top to bottom, everybody is hungry and wants to prove something — that we can get this job done.”

Fox’s departure come one day after Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker left Team USA, citing a minor left ankle issue.

ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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