Rondo withdraws from Team USA
ATHENS, Greece – The U.S. national basketball team finalized its roster Tuesday for the world championships and there’s no Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics’ star asked to withdraw from consideration, a release from the team said.
Rondo had started the Americans’ first two exhibition games, then surprisingly didn’t play at all Sunday when the U.S. edged Spain.
The final 12-man roster set Tuesday includes: Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Rudy Gay, Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups, Danny Granger, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Stephen Curry, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler and Andre Iguodala.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad has one more tuneup, against Greece on Wednesday, before the world championships start Saturday in Turkey. They run through Sept. 12.
Earlier Tuesday, Krzyzewski said that his team’s relatively small size, the differences between NBA and global basketball rules, and his players’ lack of experience playing together are all challenges for the U.S.
“We have only played three (warmup) games and we have never played together before (in a championship game),” Krzyzewski said after a shootaround at the Olympic Indoor Arena in Athens.
“(Wednesday) night’s game for us is about getting a better understanding of ourselves and the international game before we get into the world championships. We get the chance to do it against one of the best teams.”
Wednesday’s game is being held in the same arena where the U.S. team at the 2004 Olympics – which included LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson, among others – failed to win gold for the first time since 1988.
And Greece upset the U.S. at the lasts world championships, in 2006, winning their semifinal against a lineup that again contained James and Wade.
Only with Krzyzewski’s “Redeem Team” of 2008 did the U.S. win another Olympic gold and break a string of disappointing results in major tournaments dating back to the 2002 worlds in Indianapolis.
Krzyzewski’s roster for Turkey this year boasts just two veterans – Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups and Lakers forward Lamar Odom. He has said that defending champion Spain is the favorite, but his team edged the Spaniards 86-85 last Sunday in Madrid.
“In Beijing (in 2008) we had a team of experienced professionals; this team has younger professionals, outside of Odom and Billups,” Krzyzewski said.
“We are trying to adapt (to different kinds of players) and it’s good. I don’t think the players should have to adapt to you as much as you should adapt to them.”
Tyson Chandler is the team’s only true center as well as its only 7-footer, but Krzyzewski said that situation was not intentional.
“We thought we would be bigger but the first day of training camp we lost (Brook) Lopez, (Amare) Stoudamire and (David) Lee and we could not bring other people in,” he said. “There’s more (chance of) error with the lack of size.”
He added that he might use a zone defense extensively on Wednesday against Greece’s tall frontline. “I could also use (Sofoklis) Schortsanitis,” Krzyzewski joked, referring to Greece’s 6-foot-10, 345-pound center.
His team must learn to adapt to international basketball rules, especially on traveling, a problem for many U.S. professionals, men and women, playing in Europe. In the game against Spain, the U.S. bench was furious at officials’ numerous traveling calls.
“I understand that in the half court, you have to put the ball down before you move, but (calling a traveling violation) in the full court is something that’s a little bit unusual,” Krzyzewski said.
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