As World Cup gets closer, USA Basketball working on bonding


Published 8:07 p.m. ET Aug. 14, 2019


EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t have many rules for his World Cup team. They’re more like suggestions, such as the one about limiting phone usage when the team is having breakfast together.

He doesn’t mind if guys are talking.

He just wants them talking to one another.

Part of the challenge the U.S. faces in the road to this FIBA World Cup — the tournament opener for the Americans in Shanghai against the Czech Republic is just a little over two weeks away — is taking individuals who know one another and turning them into a real team. It’s been a top priority for Popovich since the national team assembled for camp last week, and players say they feel bonds being forged.

“We’ve got the group text going already,” Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton said. “Practices, we’re constantly talking to each other. The bus rides, the breakfast meetings when there’s no phones, just getting to know each other to see what they’re all about, see how they are, just get to know them.”

So off-court matters are coming together.

The on-court product is still…

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