US men's basketball begins Olympic road in Uruguay
United States' DeAndre Jordan (6) scores over China's Zhai Xiaochuan (9) during a men's basketball game at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
The U.S. men's basketball team will begin the long road to the 2020 Olympics when it opens FIBA AmeriCup 2017 preliminary-round play in Montevideo, Uruguay.
The Americans were drawn into Group C on Thursday along with host Uruguay, Panama and the Dominican Republic. The semifinals and finals of the 12-team tournament for teams in the Americas will be Sept. 2-3 in Cordoba, Argentina.
The U.S. will likely send a team of NBA Development League players as it competes in the former FIBA Americas tournament for the first time since 2007. The tournament used to serve as a qualifier for the Olympics and world championships, and the Americans hadn't needed to go through qualifying since.
But basketball's governing body has revamped its qualification system beginning this year. The 2019 Basketball World Cup in China will qualify teams for the 2020 Tokyo Games, and the Americans are required to play in the regional tournament to be eligible for those.
The Americans plan to announce a roster and coaching staff at a later date.
Group A will be held in Medellin, Colombia, and include host Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and a country to be determined. Argentina will host Group B in Bahia Blanca — Manu Ginobili's hometown — and face Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
The three group winners plus Argentina advance to the semifinals.
The event was originally called the Tournament of the Americas, where the Dream Team debuted in 1992. That was the Americans' first of six championships in eight appearances in the tournament, now held every four years.