Celtics’ Marcus Smart is ‘100 percent confident’ he’ll be ready to play for Team USA In FIBA World Cup
Marcus Smart has been sidelined from prepping for the upcoming FIBA World Cup with USA Basketball for nearly two weeks. Despite the national program reaching its final cutdown stage on Saturday, though, the Boston Celtics guard remains with Team USA.
Why? As Smart told NBA TV’s Jared Greenberg on Friday night during the American’s exhibition against Spain in Los Angeles, he’s fully confident he’ll be healthy enough to play when the World Cup tips off in China on August 31.
“Feeling great. I’ve been doing my condition, I’ve been doing everything that the training staff has asked me to, and every test that they’ve put me through and everything has been exceptional and wonderful. I’m just ready to get back out there,” he said.
Smart went on to say he’s “100 percent confident” he’ll be ready for the World Cup, and that the calf he strained on August 7 “feels amazing.”
The fact that USA Basketball decided to keep Smart around despite his lack of availability is an indication that he was always primed to make the Americans’ final roster. That likelihood reached its zenith on Saturday, when Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox withdrew from consideration before Team USA heads to Australia for its final preparations prior to FIBA play. There are currently 13 players remaining on the roster; 12 will go to China.
Smart is ideally suited for a role as Team USA’s designated stopper. His incredible defensive versatility, improving three-point shooting, and ability to make quick decisions offensively with and without the ball makes him a perfect fit for Gregg Popovich’s squad.