Kawhi Team USA hope

Mercury (Hobart) - - BASKETBALL - MATT LOGUE •

WED­NES­DAY, JUNE 12, 2019 the­mer­cury.com.au SUB­SCRIP­TIONS 1300 696 397 TORONTO Rap­tors star Kawhi Leonard could still play at the World Cup in China, as well as the warm-up matches in Aus­tralia in Au­gust, ac­cord­ing to Team USA of­fi­cials.

Leonard was not named in Team USA’s 20-man squad an­nounced on Mon­day.

Na­tional team man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Jerry Colan­gelo said an in­vi­ta­tion was ex­tended to the Rap­tors small for­ward to be part of the train­ing camp squad but he is yet to re­spond.

How­ever, Colan­gelo said Team USA will se­ri­ously con­sider Leonard if he com­mits to the World Cup.

“If cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als reached out and said they wanted to par­tic­i­pate, we’d cer­tainly take a hard look at that,” Colan­gelo said. “That in­cludes him [Leonard].”

Golden State duo Steph Curry and Clay Thomp­son have yet to de­clare their avail­ablil­ity as they are still play­ing in the NBA Fi­nals and, like Leonard, they will be in­vited to join the squad.

Colan­gelo is also an­tic­i­pat­ing that play­ers will po­ten­tially with­draw from Team USA’s train­ing camp squad be­cause of fac­tors such as con­tract ex­ten­sions. “There are things that come up dur­ing the course of life,” he said. “Be it in­juries, per­sonal things, con­tracts.

“There could be ad­di­tions and there might be a dele­tion or two. Some con­tract sit­u­a­tions may take them out of the mix. There are no guar­an­tees.”

Team USA coach Gregg Popovich is ex­cited about tak­ing on an Aus­tralian team fea­tur­ing his vet­eran San An­to­nio Spurs guard Patty Mills. Popovich be­lieves the Boomers pos­sess the abil­ity and smarts to beat any­one at the World Cup, start­ing on Au­gust 31.

“It is a tal­ented group,” he said about the Aus­tralians.

“They are NBA play­ers for a rea­son. Beyond that I think the group has a won­der­ful bas­ket­ball IQ. They are bas­ket­ball play­ers. They are not just oneon-one play­ers. They are peo­ple who un­der­stand how to play and they en­joy play­ing with each other.

“They’ve played to­gether a lot and they are ex­pe­ri­enced. I ex­pect the Aus­tralians to be a ma­jor fac­tor.”

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