USA Basketball team gets its first look at World Cup venue

A vehicle passes a giant FIBA Basketball World Cup themed display near one of the venues at the Mall of Asia Arena Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023, in Pasay city Philippines. Basketball's World Cup starts on Friday, Aug. 25, spread out over three nations — the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. It'll be centered in Manila. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Anthony Edwards took a shot from half-court, watched it swish and then turned around and started yelling in celebration.

It seemed like the USA Basketball World Cup team rather enjoyed its first trip to Mall of Asia Arena.

The Americans got their first look at their World Cup venue on Wednesday night with a short practice inside the arena. They will play every game of their run in the tournament there, starting with Saturday's opener against New Zealand and, they hope, stretching all the way through the gold-medal game on Sept. 10.

“Very helpful,” U.S. coach Steve Kerr said. “I think all the guys liked to see the arena, feel the hoops, see the backdrop. It's good to come over here.”

Wednesday's was the only practice the Americans have planned at the arena before Saturday. There's a full basketball facility at their hotel, and that's what they'll be using for workouts on their way to completing preparations for New Zealand.

“It feels good,” U.S. guard Austin Reaves said. “Hopefully we play eight games here and obviously win all of them. It's good to get here and run around. We had a good practice yesterday, a good one today, and hopefully we'll keep building throughout this week for Saturday's game.”

The U.S. World Cup team played in four different cities during the 2019 tournament in China — going from Shanghai to Shenzhen to Dongguan to Beijing. There won't be any travel this time; the Americans are among the 16 teams that start the tournament in Manila while eight are opening play in Okinawa, Japan, and eight others in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The medal rounds will be in Manila.

“We just scrimmaged and the lid was on the rim. I missed like my first three shots,” said Edwards, who led the U.S. with 34 points in its exhibition-season finale against Germany, in which the Americans rallied from 16 down to win 99-91. “But I ended up making like three straight. Just trying to take the lid off the rim, that's the main thing."

The half-court shot convinced Edwards that the Mall of Asia Arena lid is no more.

“It's off now,” he said.


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