April 25, 2016 / 5:01 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. basketball to play five-game pre-Rio Olympics exhibition

Lebron James (C) of the U.S. and teammates listen to the national anthem during victory ceremony at the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 12, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar

(Reuters) - The United States men’s basketball team will play five exhibition contests, including games against gold medal rivals Argentina and China, in the buildup to the Rio Olympics, USA Basketball said on Monday.

The United States, with a team expected to be led by LeBron James, will face fourth ranked Argentina on July 22 in Las Vegas followed games against China on July 24 in Los Angeles and July 26 in Oakland.

Venezuela will provide the opposition in Chicago on July 29 before the U.S. team wrap up their pre-Olympic preparation against Nigeria on Aug. 1 in Houston.

“With only a short period of training available, our training and exhibition games are critical in helping us prepare for the challenges we will face in Rio in defending our gold medal,” Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball chairman and national team managing director, said in a statement.

The U.S. team head to Rio bidding for a third consecutive gold. The Olympic Games men’s competition will feature national teams from 12 countries competing Aug. 6-21.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue

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