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USA host Uruguay, both seek to get closer to the FIBA World Cup

LAS VEGAS (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers) — The United States are hosting Uruguay in the beginning of the second round of Group E of the Americas Qualifiers, and both teams seek the  wins that are essential to qualify to the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China 2019. The University of Nevada's Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas is the stage for the first act of these national teams, who are coming in with new names in their squads.

Uruguay coach Marcelo Signorelli decided that captain Bruno Fitipaldo and Esteban Batista —who is recovering from a muscle strain— will not be traveling to US territory.

“It's a complicated game. USA is a competitive team with players from the NBA and its development league. They are the favorites, but this will allow us to be well for the game against Mexico, who are our direct rivals. It's clear that Uruguay will present a young team with prospective players that have been working in the process but have little game time. I hope this serves to keep improving and we’ll see how the game goes. The important thing is to keep on adding and to be well for the second game. We have to win if we want to stay alive.”- Bruno Fitipaldo, Uruguay.

 In this sense, Signorelli summoned Gonzalo Iglesias to travel to Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Fitipaldo and Batista will stay in Montevideo to train and to think about Mexico. There, the Uruguayans will have Luciano Parodi, who will not play at the United States but will be present on Monday at Palacio Peñarol.

The roster for Las Vegas is now formed by: Diego García (Hispano - Argentina), Joaquín Rodríguez (Aguada), Mauro Zubiaurre (Urunday Universitario), Federico Pereiras (Aguada), Nicolás Catalá (Trouville), Sebastián Vázquez (Olímpico de la Banda - Argentina), Emiliano Serrés (Malvín), Sebastián Izaguirre (Aguada), Gonzalo Iglesias (Defensor Sporting), Hernando Cáceres (Trouville), Hatilla Passos (free agent) and Kiril Wachsmann (Olimpia).

Hatilla Pasos is the leader for the charrúas, with 5.2 points per game; while Sebastián Izaguirre leads with 5 rebounds.

“It's a beautiful game to play. You don’t get to play against USA every day, especially against NBA players. I’m one to think that the games are defined in the court and we must go out to play them to a hundred percent no matter who our rivals are. It's a game where we must cut their rhythm a lot and establish it ourselves. If we play possession after possession and we cut their drives, we may have a neck to neck game,” said Gonzalo Iglesias, the 2,01 m (6’6”) power forward.

“We must avoid having them running the court, we must control the ball the most we can and do an intelligent game. It’ll also be important to have a good offense that night. I think that we continue to have pretty good chances. We must find the points that we still need. What we most want is to qualify and I’m feeling very confident that we will reach that objective,” he added.

Marcos Cabot is another one of these new losses before the game against the United States. He sustained a muscle injury in one of the most recent training sessions. “The squad is doing fine, we're very united, we're a family — that's how we feel. It’s a pity we don't have Marcos Cabot, we’ll give it all in his name,” Iglesias expressed.

Cabot is the most recent leave in the already-known list that includes Jayson Granger, Gustavo Barrera, Santiago Vidal, Mathias Calfani, Juan Ducasse and Marcel Souberbielle.

“Our idea always was to go to Las Vegas with our greatest potential. We don’t have an A, B or C team. We are one team. There are some players that are more important than others, but we are one team and we're not going to Las Vegas on vacation. We must play a good game. We're coming from being 40 down against Argentina and we must change our image. We know. The love for the national team exists and we're all working to get to the World Cup,” Signorelli assured.

For his part, United States coach Jeff Van Gundy summoned 14 players to welcome Uruguay in Las Vegas on Friday. Ten of them played last year with the NBA. The American team is determined to get their qualification to the FIBA Basketball World Cup and does not want to give any advantages to the others.

“With our September second-round games marking the start of the most critical part of the World Cup Qualifying, I think it is imperative for us to look for players who possess mental fortitude, who are tough, and who have experience,” said Van Gundy in a press release. “All of our second-round games are going to be very, very difficult and competitive battles. Argentina, Panama and Uruguay are all really good and well coached.”- Jeff Van Gundy, USA

 Of the 14 summoned players, 10 played in the most recent NBA season with their respective teams: Dwayne Bacon (Charlotte Hornets), Jordan Crawford (New Orleans Pelicans), Henry Ellenson and Reggie Hearn (Detroit Pistons), Isaiah Hicks (New York Knicks), Dakari Johnson (Oklahoma City Thunder), Frank Mason III (Sacramento Kings), Ben Moore (Indiana Pacers), Jameel Warney (Dallas Mavericks) and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs). The other four players called by the American coach are Bryce Alford, Victor Eric Beachem, Chasson Randle and Travis Trice.

 "It’s good to have Reggie and Jameel back," said the coach. "They’ve already experienced how tough these games are. And by looking to players who have played in the NBA and internationally, I’m hoping we have the experience required to win and qualify the United States for the 2019 FIBA World Cup."

The North American team are adding 11 points with a 5-victory record and only one defeat and are currently leading the Group alongside Argentina. Their only misstep was against Mexico (70-78). Uruguay adds 10 points (4-2) and is coming from a 102-58 loss against Argentina.

After the first encounters, the Uruguayans will receive Mexico at Palacio Peñarol on Monday, September 17. The Americans will meanwhile travel to Panama to face the locals at Roberto Durán Stadium. On Sunday, December 2, both teams will face off again in Uruguayan territory.

These will be the two first encounters of the second stage of this new format, which will qualify seven teams from the continent to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 (the best three teams of each group and the best overall fourth).