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James Harden wants to play in FIBA World Cup this summer

Rockets, James Harden, FIBA

As the Houston Rockets prepare for the playoffs, James Harden tells reporters that he wants to play in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup this summer. The tournament takes place from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 in China.

Harden—along with Rockets teammates Chris Paul and Eric Gordon—is on the national team roster, along with 33 other players. Training camp begins in Las Vegas on Aug. 5.

“Of course I want to play,” Harden said. “It’s an opportunity to represent your country, go out there and play basketball. It’s something I love doing. If that opportunity presents itself, I’ll be in. Not everyone gets that opportunity. As a basketball player, that’s one of the highest points you can get for basketball.”

Harden played in the 2012 Olympics and 2014 World Cup, but has shouldered a heavier load this season. He’s averaging a league-high 36.1 points per game and has a league and career-high usage rate of 40.4 percent.

Paul missed about a month of the season with a hamstring injury, during which time Harden had the best stretch of his career. He dragged the Rockets into playoff contention nearly singlehandedly, scoring at least 30 points in 32 straight games, the second longest such streak in league history. During the 1961-1962 season, Wilt Chamberlin scored 30 points or more in 65 consecutive games.

Regardless of the toll the season and playoffs may take on him, Harden is eager to wear the red, white and blue again.

“Obviously, you have the NBA and you have winning a championship and all that good stuff playing for your respective cities,” he said. “Where you’re from, you’re playing for an entire country, the country you represent. It’s pretty awesome to be a part of it.”

In 2014’s FIBA gold medal game, Harden and Team USA defeated Serbia 129-92.  Kyrie Irving lead the team in scoring with 26 points. Harden was second with 23.