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Former USA star Wade anticipates super competitive World Cup in China
MIAMI (Florida) - Dwyane Wade lived highs and lows in his time with the United States national team, an experience that tells him there are no certainties for the Americans less than three months away from the opening tip of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China.
At the 2008 Olympics, Wade was a leading player in the USA "Redeem Team" that captured the gold medal. He had also played for the Americans at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and 2006 World Cup in Japan, when the United States finished third.
Wade and the 'Redeem Team' took the USA back to the top in Beijing
"It's going to be a very exciting tournament with some very intense games," Wade, now 37, said to FIBA.basketball. "China is going to be the center of the basketball world and the teams are going to give everything. Team USA is going to fight to keep their crown after their title in Spain five years ago.
"The top three spots are going to be tough to reach for every team. The battle is going to be very, very intense."
“YOU HAVE SO MANY TEAMS BUILDING GREAT ROSTERS, LIKE AUSTRALIA, CANADA AND SERBIA, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT CAN HAVE VERY GOOD RUNS. THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDAL SPOTS IS GOING TO BE VERY INTERESTING.”
While he's confident two-time defending champions USA will boast a terrific squad at the first-ever 32-team World Cup, he also knows other countries will have good reasons to aim high.
"In general, the level of competitiveness has grown a lot in recent years. You have so many teams building great rosters, like Australia, Canada and Serbia, for example, that can have very good runs," he said. "The battle for the medal spots is going to be very interesting. Many teams can reach those last three spots."
Going to China for a national team tournament, which Wade did 11 years ago, is going to be an exciting trip.
"When you play at this level, you experience the passion of other countries for basketball and their love for their national team," he said.
"China is going to be such a great host and the tournament is going to be so great.
"The fans, the environment, the love for basketball is very good there, and I'm sure that it's going to be a huge success both on and off the court. I know everyone in China can't wait for the start of the tournament and is excited to see their favorite players and teams. The stage is going to be great; the tournament is going to be one of the best ever."
Wade (left) and the USA slipped up against Greece in the Semi-Finals of the World Cup in Japan
As for finishing third in Japan in his one and only World Cup, Wade said: "We wanted to win the world title but we failed on our mission. It was disappointing because we knew we had all the tools to win the title, but we had a tough game against Greece that ended our dream."
The Greeks won, 101-95. The Americans claimed a 96-81 triumph over Argentina in the Third-Place Game.
“I KNOW EVERYONE IN CHINA CAN'T WAIT FOR THE START OF THE TOURNAMENT AND IS EXCITED TO SEE THEIR FAVORITE PLAYERS AND TEAMS. THE STAGE IS GOING TO BE GREAT; THE TOURNAMENT IS GOING TO BE ONE OF THE BEST EVER.”
"We were able to bounce back and win the bronze, but this tournament wasn't the best we had because we didn’t reach our goal," Wade said. "But I think that we all learned from it and that it helped us in the following competitions because we won the gold.
"We came back two years later at the Olympics (in Beijing) with the mindset of 'We're going to win and not have the same performance that we had in Japan.'
"You learn from every experience. You learn when you win, you learn when you lose. The most important thing is to move on and work hard to win the next one. It was tough to lose in Japan, but we bounced back."
Wade, a three-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat, brought the curtain down on his 16-year NBA career a couple of months ago. He says he'll be keeping tabs on the World Cup in China, which is the biggest event on the international sports calendar this year.
"Oh yes, absolutely," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing some games and seeing the most talented guys in the world competing at international level."