By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
Former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy will lead the U.S. men’s basketball team through the early stages of qualifying for the 2019 Basketball World Cup, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.
He will guide a team made up of mostly NBA G League players in this summer’s FIBA AmeriCup 2017 tournament and in qualifying games between November and September 2018.
San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich will coach the Americans in the World Cup and the 2020 Olympics, should they qualify. But neither he nor NBA players can take part throughout the qualifying stages, because some will fall during the NBA season under FIBA’s new competition schedule.
The World Cup in China will then serve as the qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Qualifying for the 2019 FIBA World Cup is the first step in our attempt to repeat as gold medalist, and we’re delighted that we were able to secure a coach of Jeff’s caliber to lead these USA teams,” USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said in a statement.
Van Gundy went 430-318 as coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets, leading the Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals. He is now an analyst for ESPN and has called the last 11 Finals, a record for a TV analyst.
The FIBA AmeriCup, formerly the FIBA Americas tournament, will run from Aug. 25-Sept. 3. The Americans will play their preliminary-round games in the 12-team tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay, and final-round action will be in Cordoba, Argentina.
Veteran international coach Mo McHone and NBA G League coach Ty Ellis will assist Van Gundy in that tournament.
The Americans will play home-and-away games against Puerto Rico, Mexico and Cuba in the first stage of World Cup qualifying. The assistant coaches for those games will be named at a later date.
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