SACRAMENTO - Three down, four to go.
Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has been named a finalist for the 2014 USA Men's National World Cup Team.
The 16 remaining players, who will resume camp in Chicago on Aug. 14, will be trimmed by four more before the final roster of 12 heads to Spain on Aug. 30 to participate in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
"I am honored to be part of the U.S. National Basketball Team and a finalist for the World Cup roster," Cousins said in a statement, released by the Kings. "I am humbled by the importance and magnitude of this opportunity and will do what is needed to help the team win games and make my country proud."
Cousins has participated in USA Basketball camp for the past three summers in Las Vegas; the first two with the Select Team. His desire to make the final roster has been a motivating factor this offseason, and the powers that be have taken notice.
"All the coaches were really pleased with DeMarcus and how he played," said USA Basketball and Duke University Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski during a Tuesday morning conference call. "His attitude is tremendous because he wouldn't keep coming back to be a part of Team USA if it didn't mean something to him. He was in good shape. He played well."
Krzyzewski said he would be looking at the exhibition games with a very critical eye while making decisions on his front court players. With absences from Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin, Team USA is searching for a solid backup to returning starting center and New Orleans star Anthony Davis.
Following the final day of camp in Las Vegas last week, Krzyzewski suggested that Cousins would have the biggest adjustment to make of all the bigs. Krzyzewski even mentioned his former Duke player, Mason Plumlee of the Brooklyn Nets, and Detroit's Andre Drummond ahead of Cousins in terms of familiarity with the team's system.
Following that comment, an ESPN report claimed that Plumlee had the advantage of making the final roster over Cousins.
Then came last Friday's team scrimmage at Thomas and Mack center, where Cousins excelled. The game was marred by a horrific injury to Paul George, who suffered two open fractures in his right leg in the fourth quarter.
However, despite the grim loss of USA's starting small forward, Cousins finished with a double-double - 11 points and 11 rebounds, before the game was called after the near 15 minute delay. He ran the floor well, demonstrated some of his elite passing ability and was a presence in the low post.
"We're going to look at all of them, but we haven't determined how many we're going to keep," Krzyzewski said.
Davis, Plumlee and Drummond will join Cousins in Chicago, alongside Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Golden State's Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, Chicago's Derrick Rose, Houston's James Harden, Chandler Parsons from Dallas, DeMar DeRozan of Toronto, Denver's Kenneth Faried, Atlanta's Kyle Korver, Portland's Damian Lillard and Utah's Gordon Hayward.
In Chicago, Team USA will have an exhibition game at the United Center on Aug. 16 following two days of mini-camp. From there, they will head to New York City for more preparations Aug. 18-22, playing two more exhibition games against the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, at Madison Square Garden.
The 2014 World Cup, consisting of 24 national teams, is Aug. 30 to Sept. 14 in Spain. USA has been drawn into Group C, joining the Dominican Republic, Finland, New Zealand, Turkey and Ukraine.
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