U.S. vulnerable without big names: Prigioni

Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:38am EDT
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By Zoran Milosavljevic

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Hosts Spain and several other teams are capable of defeating a United States side missing their biggest names at the Aug. 30-Sept. 14 basketball World Cup, New York Knicks playmaker Pablo Prigioni told Reuters.

The 37-year-old Argentina point guard, who joined the Knicks in 2012 from Spanish side Caja Laboral, also announced that he would be quitting the international stage after the 24-nation tournament in order to focus on his NBA career.

"Spain and a few other teams now have a chance of beating the United States," said Prigioni at the warm-up event in Belgrade where Argentina were soundly beaten by host nation Serbia and Puerto Rico.

"It will be interesting to see how they will adjust now they are missing their biggest names."

LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin have all rejected invitations to play as the Americans prepare to defend the World Cup they won in Istanbul in 2010.

Prigioni's Argentina team mate Luis Scola, now plying his trade with the Indiana Pacers after five seasons at the Houston Rockets and one at the Phoenix Suns, believes the title holders remain strong favourites.

"The United States are always a good team no matter who plays and Spain will obviously be contenders too as the host nation," Scola told Reuters.

"We are a work in progress but I believe we are a good team too capable of making an impact. My expectations are high but we have to improve because we won't beat anybody if we play like we did in Belgrade."   Continued...

New York Knicks' Pablo Prigioni of Argentina drives past Boston Celtics' Jason Terry (L) during the first half of Game 3 of their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoff basketball series in Boston, Massachusetts April 26, 2013. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi