(Reuters) - The United States team will travel to Spain without some of the sport’s biggest names to defend their title at the Basketball World Cup after a selection process described as one of the “most difficult” in recent years.
With marquee players LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love opting out of selection and All-Star Paul George hurt, the U.S. will be led by the emerging talents such as Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving at the Aug. 30-Sept. 14 tournament.
“Since taking over the USA Basketball men’s national team program in 2005, this was without doubt the most difficult selection process we’ve gone through,” USA Basketball chief Jerry Colangelo said after the 12-man team was finalized.
“In the end it was about assembling the best team, selecting guys who we felt would be able to best play the kind of style we envision this team playing.”
In recent weeks, Durant, Love, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard removed themselves from the selection process for various reasons and All Star forward George was ruled out after suffering a horror leg injury while playing in a Team USA practice game in Las Vegas.
The 12-man roster for the Basketball World Cup was announced after the U.S. beat Puerto Rico 112-86 in an exhibition game played at Madison Square Garden in New York.
“We are very pleased with the overall effort of every player who was a part of the process,” USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement.
”To select 12 was difficult, because our pool is so good. As we go forward, we not only go forward as 12, we go forward as a pool for USA Basketball. As a staff we want to thank the players who are not going forward.
“I‘m excited about the 12 players selected and feel we have excellent versatility and the makings of a really good defensive team.”
The U.S. will be aiming to become only the third team after Brazil (1959 and 1963) and Yugoslavia (1998 and 2002) to win back-to-back world titles.
The U.S. team: DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets), Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings), James Harden (Houston Rockets), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets), Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors).
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry