Colombia will be next for USA Basketball in World Cup qualifiers

FILE - John Jenkins of the United States dribbles the ball during a men's basketball practice at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Saitama, Japan July 22, 2021. Jenkins and the United States qualifying team for the World Cup defeated Uruguay on Thursday, August 25, 2022, in <a class=Las Vegas, as the Americans edged closer to a berth in next year’s tournament. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)” title=”FILE – John Jenkins of the United States dribbles the ball during a men’s basketball practice at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Saitama, Japan July 22, 2021. Jenkins and the United States qualifying team for the World Cup defeated Uruguay on Thursday, August 25, 2022, in Las Vegas, as the Americans edged closer to a berth in next year’s tournament. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)” loading=”lazy”/>

FILE – John Jenkins of the United States dribbles the ball during a men’s basketball practice at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Saitama, Japan July 22, 2021. Jenkins and the United States qualifying team for the World Cup defeated Uruguay on Thursday, August 25, 2022, in Las Vegas, as the Americans edged closer to a berth in next year’s tournament. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

PA

For the Basketball World Cup qualifier USA, there was no time to celebrate after taking first place in their group.

There was an overnight flight to catch.

A game in Barranquilla, Colombia awaits the Americans on Monday night, the second and final game of this two-game qualifying window. A victory would put the United States on the verge of securing a place in the 32-team field for next year’s World Cup, and would likely mean the Americans would only need to win one of their four final qualifying competitions to do the job.

A defeat would not ruin hopes, but would make the task of qualifying a little more difficult.

“We know what’s at stake,” USA qualifying coach Jim Boylen said after Thursday’s 105-71 thrashing of Uruguay in Las Vegas, before he and the team rushed for a red-eye steal to Miami then a connection to Colombia. “I think this group will enjoy playing on the road. It’s something that matters to them. »

There are 12 teams remaining in qualification in the FIBA ​​Americas region, split into two groups of six nations. Of those, seven will make it into the World Cup field – the top three from each group and the best team in fourth place.

A 6-1 and alone in Group F, with a game lead over Brazil (5-2) and two games ahead of Puerto Rico, Mexico and Uruguay (all 4-3), the Americans are in an ideal position. But Colombia (3-4) have little room for error, and are thrilled to come back from 20 points to win in Mexico on Thursday night – essentially keeping their hopes alive.

Americans know they will face a hostile environment.

“Playing against the United States is the biggest situation for all the teams that face us,” said American guard Mac McClung.

MONDAY GAMES

In Group F, Mexico plays against Brazil, Puerto Rico against Uruguay and the United States against Colombia.

In Group E, the other group of six nations in qualification for the Americas, the Dominican Republic (5-2) play Venezuela (6-1), the Bahamas (2-5) go to Argentina (5- 2) and Canada — at 7-0, the last undefeated team in the Americas region — plays Panama (2-5).

It’s essentially a win-or-lose time for the Bahamas and Panama.

NEXT ROUND

The next window of World Cup qualifying matches will take place in November. The United States will play home matches against Brazil (November 11) and Colombia (November 14) at a venue yet to be announced.

The last qualifying window is in February.

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