Mikal Bridges‘ and Cameron Johnson‘s careers have mirrored each other, from breaking into the NBA with Phoenix to being sent to the Nets in the same trade and now making their debuts together with Team USA, writes Vishakha Deshpande of USA Basketball. Nicknamed “The Twins” because of their close friendship, Bridges and Johnson are enjoying their experience as they try to win a gold medal at the FIBA World Cup.
“It’s just really amazing to be here with him (Johnson),” Bridges said. “It’s wild to even think that I didn’t know Cam very well five years ago and with every passing season we get closer. And now being here and playing for USA, it’s just such an honor.”
Many of the NBA’s top stars are skipping the World Cup with an eye toward playing in the Olympics next summer. That has created opportunities for not just Johnson and Bridges, but the rest of the U.S. roster, which is largely made up of players in their first major international competition.
“It’s been amazing,” Bridges said. “We’re all kind of like the same age. It’s a fun set of guys and we got along really fast. We weren’t worried about that at all when we got here. The goal is to get gold for USA.”
There’s more on the World Cup:
- With Team USA’s first World Cup game one week away, head coach Steve Kerr appears to have settled on a starting lineup, observes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Kerr used the same starting five for the fourth straight game as the Americans defeated Greece in an exhibition Friday, penciling in Bridges alongside Anthony Edwards, Jalen Brunson, Brandon Ingram and Jaren Jackson Jr. “It’s so hard because you only have a couple weeks and then you jump right into the tournament,” Kerr said. “So I like the stability of that (starting) group.”
- They haven’t gotten much notice, but John Jenkins, Langston Galloway and Eric Mika have been working with Team USA in advance of the World Cup, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The three players – who played for the U.S. during the World Cup qualifiers – won’t accompany the team to Manila for the tournament, but they’ve been actively involved in the preparation as members of the U.S. Select Team. “To see them win it all, it’d be a huge moment for me, John, Eric,” Galloway said. “We helped get them here. Now let’s finish the job.”
- Karl-Anthony Towns was ejected from the Dominican Republic’s exhibition game with Spain after picking up two technical fouls, tweets Chrisos Tsaltas of Sportal. The Timberwolves‘ big man put up 20 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes before being tossed.