Andrew Bogut says the Boomers have plenty to play for at the World Cup with an Olympic berth on the line. Picture: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images
Andrew Bogut says the Boomers have plenty to play for at the World Cup with an Olympic berth on the line. Picture: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

Bogut: USA has strength in numbers

TEAM USA have suffered a flurry of roster withdrawals for next month's World Cup in China but Boomers veteran Andrew Bogut says the Americans are still favourites.

Coach Gregg Popovich's US side are digging deep into their depth after the likes of James Harden, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon and Zion Williamson pulled out of the event to focus on preparations for the 2019/20 NBA season.

Despite the mass departures, Team USA will field a strong side for the World Cup thanks to players like Andre Drummond, Kemba Walker and Kyle Lowry.

Bogut certainly remains wary of his US rivals, who will be attempting to pull off a Cup three-peat, which has never been done in the 69-year history of the event.

"They will probably add a few more but Popovich is coaching them so they are going to be ready to go and the team to beat no matter what," Bogut said.

"But it has been interesting.

"There have been a whole lot of guys dropping out.

Andrew Bogut is eyeing Tokyo. Picture: Alex Coppel.
Andrew Bogut is eyeing Tokyo. Picture: Alex Coppel.

"Basically the 20-man squad has picked itself because I think they are down to 14 players right now.

"I don't know what is going on. Maybe people are pushing back towards FIBA and not really excited to go to this thing.

"But we are and if we can try and win a medal that is a goal for us."

The Boomers will also be without a number of star players for the World Cup, including Ben Simmons, Dante Exum and Ryan Broekhoff.

Australia will be desperate to win a maiden men's medal but Bogut stressed the significance of playing well to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"We basically need to finish higher than New Zealand to get an easier route to the Olympics," he said.

"So even if we play off in a seventh versus eighth game, it's important that we take it seriously."

Ben Simmons will miss the World Cup.
Ben Simmons will miss the World Cup.

Bogut is disappointed Simmons won't play at the World Cup given his all-round ability.

He says the Boomers will have to alter their game-plan to cater for Philadelphia star's absence.

"He (Ben) is the best Australian player in the world," he said.

"Whenever you lose a guy who can go out there and give you 20 points, 10 rebounds points and 8 assists on any given night, it is going to hurt.

"Obviously it is a different style of basketball with Ben in the line-up.

"He is a point forward, so we can create a lot of mismatches and he can initiate our offence and he can do a lot of different things.

"You take him out of the line-up and it is more of a traditional four and five with Delly at point.

Matthew Dellavedova (L) will have to carry the load at point guard in Simmons’ absence. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Matthew Dellavedova (L) will have to carry the load at point guard in Simmons’ absence. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

"We'll have to make an adjustment."

Simmons won't play at the World Cup but he has decided to play in the Boomers' three exhibition games against Australia and Canada in Melbourne and Perth next month.

"That will be interesting to see how that all plays out," Bogut said.

"Whether he plays big minutes in these lead-up games or he just comes along and plays a bit more restricted.

"I know the Australian public want to see him play on home soil but it is a bit of a conundrum.

"There is no right or wrong answer, so I guess the playing group and the coaches will figure that out on the fly in camp."

News Corp Australia


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