1998 USA Basketball World Championship Team Selected|
July 23, 1998
MONTE CARLO - After 16 days of training and only six days away from the opening tip of the 1998 FIBA Men's World Championship in Greece, USA Basketball announced its official 12-member men's World Championship team. Featuring five members who played in a professional foreign league in 1997-98, three who played in the CBA in 1997-98, two that played in both the CBA and professionally in Europe in '97-'98, one current college underclassman and one player who completed his college eligibility in 1998, the USA team selections were made by the USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team Committee.
"It was a very hard cut because everybody played hard and did a great job. Everybody wished they all could make it and to the players' credit, they made it very hard with their performances on the court," said USA and Houston Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich. "Now we've gotten down to our 12 and all of these guys are going to become part of a family. Our chemistry is good. We've got to keep working hard everyday leading up to our first game and we've got to continue to jell as a team."
Named to the 1998 USA Basketball Men's World Championship Team were: Wendell Alexis (Alba Berlin, Germany / Syracuse '86); Ashraf Amaya (Idaho Stampede / Southern Illinois '93); Mateen Cleaves (Michigan State '00); Bill Edwards (Virtus Rome, Italy / Wright State '93); Kiwane Garris (Grand Rapids / Illinois '97); Michael Hawkins (Olympiakos, Greece / Xavier '95); Gerard King (Siena, Italy / Nicholls State '96); Jimmy King (Quad City Thunder / Michigan '95); Brad Miller (Purdue '98); Jimmy Oliver (Ciuda De Huelva, Spain / Purdue '91); Jason Sasser (Sioux Falls Skyforce / Caja San Fernando, Spain / Texas Tech '96); David Wood (Rockford Lightning / Unicaja Malaga, Spain / Nevada Reno '87).
Four players boast of previous USA Basketball experience. Sasser was a member of the 1997 USA Basketball World Championship Qualifying Team that captured gold last summer in Uruguay with a 9-1 record, Miller was a member of the 1997 USA Basketball 22 And Under World Championship Team that finished 6-2 and in fifth place in Australia, and three players participated in U.S. Olympic Festival for USA Basketball including Alexis (1983), Amaya (1990) and Miller (1995).
Eight of the USA team members boast of playing experience in the NBA and the group has logged action in 703 regular season games. The eight with prior NBA experience include Amaya (85 games), Edwards (3 games), Garris (28 games), Hawkins (29 games), Jimmy King (62 games), Oliver (76 games), Sasser (8 games) and Wood (412 games).
The list also includes Jimmy King, the 1998 CBA Most Valuable Player and a member of the All-CBA first team and All-CBA Defensive Team while the lone returning collegian, Cleaves, a Michigan State junior-to-be, was an Associated Press All-America second team selection, and the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year. Miller, who completed his collegiate career at Purdue in 1998, was an All-Big Ten Conference second team selection. Several of the players have also made solid names for themselves overseas including Alexis who was named the Player of the Year in Germany's top division and finished 27th overall in the 1997 EuroLeague Player of the Year voting, while Gerard King was the leading rebounder in the Italian League averaging 13.5 boards a game, and Edwards was the fourth leading scorer in Italy in 1997-98.
The USA team concluded on Thursday its July 16-23 training in Monte Carlo and while in Monte Carlo the U.S. recorded a pair of victories in exhibition games, defeating France 93-63 and Spain 95-78. Following Thursday's morning practice, the team flew to Rome, Italy, where it will train on July 24, then play an exhibition game with the Italian National Team on July 25 at the Palaeur. Slated to practice July 26 in Rome, the USA squad will travel to Athens, Greece later that day and finish its pre-world championship training with practices on July 27 and July 28.
The 13th FIBA Men's World Championship will be held July 29-August 9 in Athens with teams from 16 countries competing for the gold medal. The United States begins World Championship preliminary round play on July 29 against Brazil, and continues preliminary round play on July 30 versus Lithuania and July 31 against South Korea. Second Round Group play is slated to be conducted August 2-4, with quarterfinals, semifinals and finals action to be held August 7-9.
Based in Colorado Springs, USA Basketball is a non-profit organization and operates as the national governing body for men's and women's basketball in the United States under the authority of the Amateur Sports Act of 1978. As the recognized governing body for basketball in the United States by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Basketball's mission is to field American teams for international competitions, including the Olympics, competitions involving high school and college players, in addition to funding international basketball teams from physically challenged organizations.