Team USA had a mini-camp workout for some younger players this summer, but that was basically it for the senior men’s team. USA Basketball largely gets to take the summer off and gear up for the World Championships in Spain next summer.
But much of the rest of the world is going at it in tournaments this summer. Ones that nobody stateside is really noticing.
The biggest may be EuroBasket, the European Championships that start Sept. 7. But first off, starting Friday, is FIBA Americas, which is taking place in Caracas, Venezuela.
Here is what you need to know about FIBA Americas:
• What is FIBA Americas? A tournament featuring 10 teams from North and South America, running August 30 to Sept. 11 in Caracas, Venezuela.
• What teams are going to be there? Not Team USA (we don’t need to be). The 10 teams that are going have been divided in to two groups of five for pool play:
Group A: Canada, Uruguay, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Jamaica
Group B: Argentina, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Paraguay
• Why are these teams there? The top four finishers get a spot in the World Championships next summer. For a lot of these programs, that would be huge. (USA Basketball, as the defending gold medalists, already has a spot.) There are 24 teams at the World Championships, only 12 allowed to the Olympics (and the IOC just refused to up it). It would be hard for teams to get a bid to Rio, but this seems doable.
• Do I know any players in this tournament? Yes, you do. Canada has Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers), Joel Anthony (Heat), Cory Joseph (Spurs), Andrew Nicholson (Magic) and Andy Rautins (Knicks). Argentina has Luis Scola (Rockets). Other names you may know are J.J Barea, Ryan Hollins, Francisco Garcia, and Mexico’s Gustavo Ayon
• Who is sitting out this tournament? A lot of players who would really help their teams. The list of guys who are either injured or just said no includes Manu Ginobili, Al Horford, Greivis Vasquez and Kelly Olynyk. Brazil isn’t going to be quite the same without Tiago Splitter, Nene, and Anderson Varejao.
• Who is going to win this thing? Even with a lot of key missing players, Brazil and Argentina are considered the favorites. They should easily lock up two of the World Championship spots.
The race for the other two spots is more interesting: Canada has a fast-improving team, Puerto Rico has a solid squad and the Dominican Republic could push into that mix as well. But a lot of teams think they are one or two upsets away from getting a slot.
• Where can I watch the games? All the games will be streamed on ESPN3 (its online app, if you have access to it). NBA TV will show two games on Sept. 5, both semifinal games on Sept. 10, and will show the finals on tape delay on Sept. 12.