COLORADO SPRINGS, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs was among the first four players named Thursday to Team USA, which will compete in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico this August.
Joining the Spurs forward will be former Olympic gold medalists Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks and Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets. Allen, a shooting guard, and Kidd, a point guard, were members of the 2000 Olympic team that captured the gold medal in Sydney.
The final member revealed on Thursday was Orlando Magic guard Tracy McGrady, who leads the NBA in scoring.
"It is great for our country, USA Basketball and our league that these four players have made the commitment to play, said Team USA Coach Larry Brown. "We're fortunate to have them on this team, as representatives of our country and the NBA. It will be an honor to coach them."
The squad will hope to erase memories of the 2002 World Championships team, which lost three of eight games in Indianapolis last year and finished sixth in the 16-team field.
In the final game of the second round, Argentina dealt Team USA its first loss in 59 international games with NBA players, never trailing in a convincing 87-80 win. The following night, Yugoslavia ended any chance of the United States claiming a medal, rallying in the fourth quarter for a win.
The Americans ended perhaps their most disappointing international performance with another loss, an 81-75 setback to Spain, in the fifth-place game.
Team USA's roster ultimately will consist of eight or nine top NBA players with the remaining roster spots filled by role players who could be professionals or amateurs. If the United States qualifies for the 2004 Olympics as expected, the goal is to keep the majority of the roster intact for the games in Athens.
"USA Basketball is thrilled to begin our men's quest for Olympic gold by announcing that Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd and Tracy McGrady, four of the NBA's most talented players, have accepted our invitation to be part of the USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team," USA Basketball President Tom Jernstedt said.
"As we approach the Olympic qualifying tournament this summer, the Senior National Team Committee was focused on naming a solid and versatile team comprised of the best basketball players from our country," said Stu Jackson, who chaired the selection committee. "These four core players are among the elite players in the NBA and we're proud to have them represent USA Basketball as we begin our defense of the Olympic gold medal."
The United States has won gold medals in 12 of the 14 Olympics in which it has participated, but needs to finish in the top three of the qualifying tournament to earn a spot in the Olympics.