Bam Adebayo speaks on joining Team USA
When Heat center Bam Adebayo received the invitation to Team USA training camp, the decision wasn’t hard.
“It was like, ‘Hey, bro, you want to be on Team USA?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ Who would say no to that?” Adebayo said Friday afternoon. “It was kind of like, ‘Dang, I really get to play for my country. I get to represent and just go out there and have fun.”
On Thursday, Adebayo was formally added to the roster of players set to participate in next week’s Team USA training camp in preparation for the FIBA World Cup. He leaves for Las Vegas, the site of camp, on Sunday morning.
“It’s a great honor because I get to represent me and my family, but most importantly the Miami Heat,” Adebayo said. “Just got to go out there and do my thing.”
Adebayo’s chances of actually earning a spot on USA Basketball’s roster for the World Cup improved Thursday, when it was announced that Pistons center Andre Drummond and Clippers forward/center Montrezl Harrell removed themselves from consideration.
With the addition of Adebayo, Team USA’s roster includes 16 players competing for 12 spots on the roster that will represent the country at the World Cup. The tournament will be held in China from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.
“It would mean a great deal for me and the organization,” Adebayo said when asked about the possibility of earning a spot on the 12-man roster. “They haven’t had a player out there since LeBron [James] and D-Wade.”
“Just going out there and being able to wear [USA] across my chest is a great experience for me. And I think my mom might come to China. So it’ll be a great experience for her to travel the world a little bit.”
Along with Adebayo, the Team USA roster includes Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart from the Celtics; Mason Plumlee from the Nuggets; Julius Randle from the Knicks; Thaddeus Young from the Bulls; Kyle Lowry from the Raptors; Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez from the Bucks; Harrison Barnes from the Kings; Kyle Kuzma from the Lakers; Donovan Mitchell from the Jazz; P.J. Tucker from the Rockets; and Myles Turner from the Pacers.
To earn one of the 12 Team USA roster spots for the World Cup, Adebayo’s competition in the frontcourt is Plumlee, Randle, Lopez and Turner.
“You just got to rise to the occasion, so just rising to the challenge,” Adebayo said. “It’s going to be multiple times where we’re going to compete in practice and I’m looking forward to go at it and just compete.”
Even before accepting an invitation to Team USA training camp, Adebayo’s offseason included a lot of basketball. He said he has been “in the gym every day” besides a quick family trip to Disney World.
“My shooting. I feel like it’s gotten more consistent,” Adebayo said of the area of his game that has improved most this offseason. “I feel like that’s going to help me not only in the season, but going to FIBA.”
Team USA’s coaching staff is led by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova coach Jay Wright serving as assistants.
Numerous roster spots on Team USA opened in recent weeks, as players such as Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Tobias Harris, James Harden, CJ McCollum and Bradley Beal withdrew. That led to Adebayo accepting a late invitation last week to join the national team for training camp.
Adebayo, who is entering his third NBA season, averaged 8.9 points on 57.6 percent shooting, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 23.3 minutes while playing in all 82 of the Heat’s games last season. With Miami trading center Hassan Whiteside to Portland last month as part of the four-team Jimmy Butler deal, Adebayo is expected to be the Heat’s starting center.
Fellow Heat big man Kelly Olynyk is set to represent Canada in the tournament.
Team USA training camp opens Monday at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center in Las Vegas and includes daily practices through Thursday. Training camp will be capped by a USA Blue-USA White exhibition game Aug. 9 at T-Mobile Arena.
Following camp in Las Vegas, selected team finalists will move to Los Angeles to practice from Aug. 13-15 before playing an exhibition game against Spain at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Aug. 16. The 12-man Team USA roster for the World Cup will be announced on Aug. 17.
After practices in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Team USA will spend a week in Australia and play a pair of exhibition games against Australia on Aug. 22 and Aug. 24. and another exhibition game against Canada on Aug. 26. The United States opens the World Cup against the Czech Republic in Shanghai on Sept. 1.