Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker is relishing the opportunity to play a leading role at the FIBA World Cup in China next month after several key players withdrew from the Team USA squad.
MORE: Australian Boomers announce 12-man squad for World Cup
After the original 20-man squad was named in June, James Harden, Eric Gordon, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Bradley Beal and Anthony Davis were among the names to withdraw from consideration, leaving Walker as the lone remaining All-NBA player on the roster.
"This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of us. I think a lot of us are happy those guys pulled out because this is our chance," Walker told ESPN.
"It's our chance to get on the big stage and showcase our talent. A chance for us to do something new. It'll be a new-look team. Everybody is kind of doubting us but I think we're hungry."
Walker, who is in camp alongside Boston Celtics teammates Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, will likely be one of the team's primary offensive options alongside fellow All-Stars Khris Middleton and Kyle Lowry as well as rising stars Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Kuzma.
Mitchell echoed Walker's sentiments, saying this group of players will enter the tournament with an edge as with rival teams look to take advantage of the USA's weakened roster.
"Obviously, we play with more of a chip [on our shoulders]," Mitchell told the Las Vegas Review-Journal . "I think a lot of countries think they see an opening so for us we have to go out there and compete and get ready. We're going to get every team's best shot."
The 32-team 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup competition will be held Aug. 31-Sept. 15 in China. Eight cities will host World Cup games - Beijing, Foshan, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Nanjing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Team USA was drawn into Group E alongside the Czech Republic, Japan and Turkey and will finalise their preparations for the tournament with a series of warm-up games in Australia before heading to China.
International Basketball Series Schedule
|August 16||Australian Boomers vs. Canada Basketball||RAC Arena, Perth, Australia|
|August 17||Australian Boomers vs. Canada Basketball||RAC Arena, Perth, Australia|
|August 20||Canada Basketball vs. New Zealand Tall Blacks||Quaycentre, Sydney, Australia|
|August 21||Canada Basketball vs. New Zealand Tall Blacks||Quaycentre, Sydney, Australia|
|August 22||USA Basketball vs. Australian Boomers||Marvel Stadium, Melbourne, Australia|
|August 24||USA Basketball vs. Australian Boomers||Marvel Stadium, Melbourne, Australia|
|August 26||USA Basketball vs. Canada Basketball||Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, Australia|