MANILA, Philippines — The opponent names will become more recognizable for USA Basketball now. Nikola Vucevic awaits on Friday, Jonas Valanciunas on Sunday, and if the Americans keep progressing through this FIBA World Cup the challenges will only get tougher.
To that, they say this: Good.
Second-round play at the World Cup starts Friday, with a 32-team field to start the tournament now down to 16 contenders for the Naismith Trophy. The U.S. is one of eight teams with 3-0 records, and those are the teams that have the easiest path to the quarterfinals.
“There’s an immediate respect level from guys going against them in the NBA,” U.S. coach Steve Kerr said. “The familiarity…