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Report: Rockets’ PJ Tucker suggested playing through ankle injury to remain with Team USA

Every single one of the players who withdrew from consideration for Team USA this summer did so with injury risk in mind. Still, it goes without saying that no one was surprised when PJ Tucker took a much different approach to playing for his country in the FIBA World Cup.

The Houston Rockets forward was considered a shoo-in for Gregg Popovich’s 12-man roster throughout preparations for China due to his incredible defensive versatility, spot-up three-point shooting ability, and overall tone he sets on the floor. Unfortunately for both he and Team USA, Tucker was forced to bow out of participation with the national program on Friday after suffering a sprained ankle.

Unlike most of his USA Basketball brethren, though, the 34-year-old apparently prioritizes suiting up for his country more than he does his health. The Athletic’s Kelly Iko reported on Friday that Tucker suggested playing through his ankle injury before ultimately deciding against it.

“A frustrated P.J. Tucker spoke with agent Andre Buck a few hours ago. Tucker was looking forward to representing the country and even suggested playing through the ankle injury. He will not, and will return to Houston tomorrow for rehab.”

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with players electing against playing for Team USA. Injuries can happen anywhere at any time, but the rigor of international play always raises the possibility of a player’s season being marred by a significant health setback.

Tucker, obviously, was wise to put his USA Basketball dreams on the backburner. Given his reputation as one of basketball’s most dedicated players, though, it’s no shock he first thought of doing otherwise.