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Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Plumlee named finalist for World Cup roster

By Mike Mazzeo

Brooklyn Nets big man Mason Plumlee was added to the 2014-16 USA Basketball national team roster on Tuesday, and is a finalist for the World Cup roster.

“It’s quite an honor to be added to the National Team and to be a finalist for the World Cup roster,” Plumlee said in a statement released by the Nets. “I am very much looking forward to training camp in Chicago as the next step in representing our country as a member of USA Basketball.”

Plumlee is one of 16 finalists for the roster. Team USA opens its World Cup against Finland on Aug. 30, and the roster must be pared down to 12 before then.

Plumlee, it appeared, was only going to be a member of the select team that practiced against Team USA. But ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst reported last week that Plumlee was likely to make the team over DeMarcus Cousins at center.

Plumlee had been impressive in practices and posted 10 third-quarter points in the team’s scrimmage Friday night before Paul George suffered a gruesome leg injury.

“We needed to bring all our big guys forward and to take a better look at the big guys, and so all four of the guys -- Anthony [Davis], DeMarcus [Cousins], Andre [Drummond] and Mason -- were brought forward,” Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Plumlee at Duke, said.

“He’s a surprise in that he was not in the original 19, but he did such a good job with the select group, and we needed another player to make it 20 so it was easier to practice that way. Mason made a mark during the week and in the second half of the scrimmage he did very well. So he’s in consideration, no question.”

Plumlee, entering only his second season in the NBA, doesn’t have the credentials that the other players do. But his athleticism would certainly be an asset -- especially in international competition.

“This phase of the selection process was extremely difficult and very thorough, and it’s worth again mentioning that we are looking to select the best team, which are not necessarily the best players,” managing director Jerry Colangelo said in a statement.

Cousins told the Sacramento Bee over the weekend that he would be “crushed” if he didn’t make the team.

Plumlee, 24, was named to the All-Rookie first team in 2013-14 after leading all first-year pros in shooting (65.9 percent) and player efficiency rating (19.09).

“He’s basically doing what he did his senior year at Duke when he was rated the top big guy in the country,” Krzyzewski said. “He talks, he’s enthusiastic, he really runs the court well, he plays good defense. Being with the Nets and being around veterans I think only helps him -- especially being around Kevin Garnett. He’s an easy guy to play with for these guys. He doesn’t need the ball long and does the dirty work. He’s an athlete, a big athlete and hopefully could be a good defender.”