Sun Star Bacolod - - Billboard -

not lead­ing Spain, is quick to point out that a glance at the NBA salaries of the U.S. play­ers dwarfs the com­bined salaries of ev­ery other World Cup ros­ter. When the Amer­i­cans played Spain in an ex­hi­bi­tion ear­lier this month, the U.S. sent out a start­ing five that will make roughly $105 mil­lion this sea­son.

So yes, in terms of earn­ing power, no other team in the world comes close to the ros­ter that the Amer­i­cans are bring­ing to China this week.

But as ev­i­denced by how Aus­tralia bat­tled the U.S. twice in a pair of ex­hi­bi­tions in Mel­bourne, and beat the Amer­i­cans there on Satur­day, at least some of the world’s best teams aren’t ex­actly fear­ful of the two-time de­fend­ing World Cup cham­pi­ons.

“Let’s let them play their bas­ket­ball and we will play ours,” Ser­bia coach Sasha Djord­je­vic now-fa­mously said ear­lier this month. “And if we meet, may God help them.”

Clearly, the tour­na­ment means quite a bit to Ser­bia. It means plenty to other nations as well.

Antetokoun­mpo, the Mil­wau­kee star who won NBA MVP this past sea­son, even said ear­lier this month that he would give back the award if it could be ex­changed for a World Cup gold medal for Greece.

“I be­lieve him,” U.S. cen­ter and Antetokoun­mpo’s Bucks team­mate Brook Lopez said. “That’s how much he wants this.”/ap

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