Thomas, Johnson headline US roster for AmeriCup qualifying

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FILE – Washington Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas (4) dribbles the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets in Washington, in this Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, file photo. USA Basketball has finalized the 14-player roster for the final round of AmeriCup qualifying later this month, a group led by NBA All-Stars Joe Johnson and Isaiah Thomas. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — USA Basketball has finalized the 14-player roster for the final round of AmeriCup qualifying later this month, a group led by NBA All-Stars Joe Johnson and Isaiah Thomas.

Both Johnson and Thomas have past USA Basketball experience as well. Johnson was a member of the U.S. team that won the bronze medal at the 2006 World Cup. Thomas was a member of the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s National Team.

The roster includes five other players with NBA regular-season experience: Josh Boone, Treveon Graham, James Nunnally, Dakota Mathias and Jordan Sibert. Mathias played in eight games with Philadelphia this season.

Also on the team that will compete in San Juan, Puerto Rico, are Paul Atkinson, Cat Barber, Chris Daniels, Will Davis II, KJ Feagi, Ra’Shad James and Tre’Shawn Thurman.

Former Milwaukee Bucks coach and longtime NBA assistant Joe Prunty will coach the squad, with Othella Harrington and Yale coach James Jones on his staff.

Prunty said USA Basketball men’s national team director Sean Ford and the national staff “have assembled a very talented and balanced roster with a combination of youth and veteran players.”

“Joe and Isaiah have the most NBA experience, but there are several players with valuable professional experience to prepare them for this competition, including on the international level,” Prunty said. “It will be exciting to watch them come together as a team to represent the USA.”

The U.S. is 4-0 in AmeriCup qualifying and has already qualified for the tournament, which will take place in September 2022 and serves as the championship for the teams in the FIBA Americas zone that covers nations from North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. USA Basketball has won the AmeriCup title seven times in nine previous attempts.

Thomas and Johnson won’t be the only players with longstanding NBA ties in the February qualifiers. J.J. Barea has committed to playing for Puerto Rico this month as well.

The Americans will train from Feb. 13 through Feb. 18 in San Juan, then play the Bahamas on Feb. 19 and Mexico on Feb. 20.

The U.S. and Brazil are the only teams to have clinched AmeriCup berths so far, meaning the other 14 remaining teams will be vying for the final 10 spots. Like the November qualifying round, the February games will be closed to fans and played in a bubble format — with two four-team groups going to San Juan, the other two four-team groups going to Cali, Colombia.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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