USA Basketball U17 Team Ready for the World

The USA Basketball U17 team has nine players back from the U16 team that won the FIBA Americas Championship in Argentina last year, so pretty much the entire roster is back to go for a much bigger title.

Of course, the Americans are assuming a lot of their foreign competition will have similar retention.

The United States should be considered one of the favorites in the FIBA U17 World Championships, which start July 2nd in Hamburg, Germany. But with basketball quickly becoming a global game, the competition figures to be steep.

The United States is well aware.

"These teams have been in place for about a year, and played in some tournaments," U17 head coach Don Showalter said. "They've probably had a little more together time than we've had."

The U17 tournament features 12 teams from around the globe: Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia, South Korea, Spain and the United States.

"We have some scouting reports," Showalter said. "Spain won the European U16 last year. They came from an underdog role to win it. Germany, the host team, will be very good. Lithuania is really strong. Argentina is a team we beat in the gold medal game (of the U16 Americas). China will be a force. Australia will be a force.

"These teams are all going to have solid players. Athletic-wise, we'll be pretty good. It's just a matter of how we can adjust."

The U.S. will face Argentina to tip things off on July 2, then play Lithuania on July 3. After a day off, the Americans face China on July 5, Egypt on July 6 and Serbia on July 7.

The top four teams in each six-team preliminary round group will advance to the quarterfinals, which are played on July 9. The semifinals will be played on July 10 and the gold-medal and bronze-medal games will be held on July 11.

The final 12-man roster for the U17 team was announced on June 21 in San Antonio. A few days later, the team departed for Lithuania for exhibition games before heading over to Germany.

Considering the roster is filled with high school students, last year's trip to Argentina and this year's extended stay in Europe is about much more than basketball.

"It's a tremendous experience for the players and coaches to go overseas," Showalter said. "You experience different cultures. When we were in Argentina, it was the culture of basketball. Our kids found that out when they went to the arena. The exposure our kids got was unbelievable.

"Now, we'll get a chance to see Germany a little bit and experience that culture."

The hope, of course, is to leave with a shiny souvenir--the U17 gold medal.

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