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P.J. Tucker, battling ankle issue, latest to withdraw for USA World Cup roster

USA Basketball Team Training Camp

EL SEGUNDO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 14: PJ Tucker #44 handles the ball during a scrimmage at the 2019 USA Men’s National Team World Cup training camp at UCLA Health Training Center on August 14, 2019 in El Segundo, California. (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)

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For the past couple of weeks, P.J. Tucker has been taking part in USA Basketball’s camp, preparing for the FIBA World Cup in China that starts at the end of this month (Team USA’s first game is Sept. 1 against the Czech Republic). He said he was energized by the invite from USA Basketball and was excited to take part.

His skill set fits what the USA wants to do — he is a physical defender, he can shoot the three, and he knows how to move the ball and move off the ball. He’s also the kind of respected veteran leader a young roster can look to.

However, on Thursday during practice in Los Angeles, he tweaked his ankle.

Friday, before the USA takes on Spain in an exhibition game in Anaheim, Tucker has pulled out of Team USA, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

That leaves Team USA with 14 players on the roster. Only 12 can be on the final roster for the World Cup, which means there are two more cuts to be made. USA Basketball traditionally makes those final cuts before they travel overseas, which will come after Friday night’s exhibition against Spain. Expect the cuts to come in the next few days.

Coach Gregg Popovich, in a very Spursian way, has been careful not to single out any player as good or bad through the tryouts. In a summer where a lot of big names decided not to play for Team USA this summer (focusing more on the Olympics next year), he wants to protect the guys who did come out and make the time sacrifice to be part of camp.

The USA’s first real test — against a good Spanish side led by Marc Gasol — will take place Friday night at 10 p.m. ET (broadcast on NBA TV). NBC Sports have stories directly from Anaheim tonight.