Harrison Barnes says Team USA ‘can’t afford to have any lapses’ in FIBA World Cup
Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes warns Team USA not to lose focus as they begin their title defense in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
Barnes, who re-signed with the Kings in the offseason, previously competed and won gold with USA Basketball in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Now, however, there are concerns over Team USA’s chances in the quadrennial affair following the withdrawals of some of America’s top players.
Team USA opens the tournament with a slate of round robin matchups against Japan, Turkey and The Czech Republic; and Barnes wants the team to take the competition one game at a time.
“You think about Czech. That’s the focus,” Barnes said, per John Karalis of MassLive. “You’re not thinking about Turkey. You’re not thinking about Japan. Even though those games are scheduled, it’s one game at a time. And I think what we learned from exhibition, part of it, is that you can’t afford to have any lapses.”
Besides Barnes, USA Basketball boasts the talents of Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Myles Turner, Brook Lopez, Derrick White, Joe Harris, Khris Middleton and Mason Plumlee.
While the USA remains the slight favorites to come out on top, they know very well they can’t relax — not after losing an exhibition match against Australia in the buildup to the event.
For now, Team USA should heed Barnes’ advice and take it one step at a time.