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USA vs. Cuba - Things To Know

  • Date:
    Feb 23, 2018

USA vs. Cuba - Things To Know

Earning an 84-48 win over Cuba (0-3) on Friday, the USA remains atop of the FIBA Americas World Cup Qualifying Group C first-round standings with a 3-0 record.  Puerto Rico downed Mexico on Friday by a score of 100-80 to improve its record to 2-1. Here are the things to know about the matchup:


Coach Van Gundy's Overview Of Cuba

“Cuba presents a lot of challenges when it comes to their front court in particular. They’re big, they’re athletic, double zero - Justiz, is a very good left-handed post player. Rivero is their starting power forward and is athletic and explosive, and the Guzman is another left-hander  who’s incredibly athletic, slashing, steal type of player. So their quickness and athleticism pose major concerns and we’re going have to be alert and aware.”


Coach Van Gundy's Thoughts About His February World Cup Qualifying Team

“We’ve had unusual roster turnover, we’ve had a couple of guys thankfully get called up to the NBA – Trey McKinney Jones to the Pacers and just last night, Marcus Thornton got called up to the Cleveland Cavaliers. So we’re incredibly excited for them, but also we’re excited about their replacements Derek Willis (Grand Rapids Drive) and Damion Lee (Santa Cruz Warriors) and we really feel that even though we’ve had short amount of practice time, we’re well prepared. Our guys are incredibly invested, they’re excited about the opportunity to represent their country and also excited about the opportunity to play in some very, very meaningful games to hopefully get our national team qualified for the (FIBA) World Cup.”


The Continuation Of Something New

An entirely new process for not only the USA, but the rest of the world, the FIBA World Cup Qualifying will determine the national teams who advance to the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The first competition window of the first round was held Nov. 23-27 and the USA won games against Americas Zone first-round Group C opponents Puerto Rico and Mexico.

The second competition window of the first-round is being held Feb. 22-26, 2018, and it will see the USA host two home games, against Cuba (Feb. 23) and Puerto Rico (Feb. 26) in Santa Cruz, California. Group C first-round play will conclude on the road for the red, white and blue, but not until June 28 and July 1 against Mexico and Cuba.

The USA February team is completely comprised of NBA G League athletes. For more information on the new World Cup Qualifying process, check out our crash course here: WCQ Crash Course.


Van Gundy Looks To Continue Winning Form

Jeff Van Gundy, who serves as an NBA color commentator for ESPN when he’s not on the USA sideline, has compiled a 7-0 record while head coach of USA teams. This past Aug. 25-Sept. 3, Van Gundy served as the head coach for the gold-medal winning USA AmeriCup Team, which defeated Argentina 81-76 in Cordoba, Argentina, on Sept. 3, with a furious second-half comeback. Van Gundy’s team of NBA G League players won two true road games during AmeriCup 2017 – in Argentina and another in Uruguay – en route to an unblemished 5-0 record.

During the USA’s first competition window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifying first-round (Nov. 23-27), Van Gundy led the USA to two wins, 85-78 over Puerto Rico and 91-55 versus Mexico.


Two Are Back In The Mix

Not only is Van Gundy and USA assistant coaches Mo McHone and John Thompson back with USA Basketball, but so are two players from the USA World Cup Qualifying November squad, including Larry Drew II (Sioux Falls Skyforce) and Travis Wear (South Bay Lakers).


Plenty Of History

The USA owns a 27-1 record versus Cuba, and the two men’s national teams last played in the 2000 Goodwill Games, a game the USA claimed a 111-70 win. The USA’s lone loss came in the 1971 Pan American Games when Cuba earned a 73-69 victory.  The U.S. is 1-0 versus Cuba in Olympic games (67-48 in 1972); 2-0 in FIBA World Cup games (74-53 in 1970 and 83-70 in 1974); and 4-0 in FIBA Americas Championships contests (95-92 in 1989, 136-57 in 1992, 100-88 in 1997, and 88-52 in 1999).


Game Information

Tickets for the USA-Cuba game are available by calling (831) 713-4400 or online at

The game is being broadcast live on ESPNU. ESPN play-by-play commentator Marc Kestecher will have the call with analyst P.J. Carlesimo. 



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