Joe Johnson returns to play for USA in World Cup qualifiers

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Joe Johnson answered USA Basketball’s call again.

A year removed from his last playing experience with the national team, the 40-year-old Johnson was among 12 players announced Tuesday as the roster for a pair of Basketball World Cup qualifying games later this month.

Also picked: Jordan Bell, Tarik Black, Brian Bowen II, Langston Galloway, Jared Harper, Juwan Morgan, Matt Ryan, David Stockton, Rayjon Tucker, Paul Watson and Justin Wright-Foreman. Most of the players are coming from the G League, and most have at least a small amount of NBA experience.

Jim Boylen, who led the Americans to a 1-1 record during a pair of qualifying games in Mexico back in November, will again coach the U.S. in these qualifiers. The Americans open camp on Friday, in advance of playing Puerto Rico on Feb. 24 and Mexico on Feb. 27, both of those games in Washington.

Johnson – a seven-time NBA All-Star who appeared in one game with Boston this season – last played for USA Basketball in AmeriCup qualifying in February 2021. Bowen and Stockton also have past USA Basketball qualifying-game experience.

The two games next week are games three and four out of six first-round qualifying matchups for the U.S. The Americans – who likely only need one more win to be assured of moving into the next round – also are scheduled to play Puerto Rico on July 1 and Cuba on July 4.

There are four teams in four groups of qualifying out of the FIBA Americas region. The top three teams in each group move on to the second round of qualifying, which starts in August and runs through February 2023.

The U.S. (1-1) was drawn into Group D for the first round of qualifying from the Americas region, joined by Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Group A consists of Argentina, Panama, Paraguay and Venezuela. Group B is made up of Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay. Group C consists of Bahamas, Canada, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The World Cup – where teams can directly qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics – runs from Aug. 25-Sept. 10, 2023, with games being played in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.