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Khris Middleton says Team USA was ‘very surprised’ PJ Tucker withdrew from World Cup

Team USA

Milwaukee Bucks swingman Khris Middleton says he and his Team USA teammates were “very surprised” Houston Rockets forward PJ Tucker withdrew from the FIBA World Cup.

Shortly before Team USA’s exhibition game against Spain last week, Tucker suffered an ankle injury in practice. He wanted to play through it, but after speaking to his agent, Tucker decided to withdraw.

Middleton says guys on the team know how tough Tucker is, so it must have been hard for the Rockets defensive ace to withdraw from Team USA.

“Yeah, we were very surprised,” Middleton said after Team USA’s close 90-81 victory over Spain, via Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “I mean he told us, I think, probably about an hour or two right before we took off for this game. But, you know, P.J. is a great player. A tough guy, a vet, that’s been around this league, been around this world, and is experienced. He’s a tough player.”

Tucker is expected to be ready for Rockets training camp. Team USA will bring 12 guys to China for the FIBA World Cup.

Right now, the roster is made up of Harrison Barnes, Jaylen Brown, Joe Harris, Kyle Kuzma, Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Donovan Mitchell, Mason Plumlee, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Myles Turner, Kemba Walker and Derrick White.

One player will be cut from this group.