Isaiah Thomas returning to USA Basketball for qualifying

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Isaiah Thomas is putting on the red, white and blue again.

Thomas was announced Friday as an injury replacement for USA Basketball’s team that will open World Cup qualifying play this month in Mexico. The two-time NBA All-Star was added to the roster, along with Justin Anderson, as replacements for DaQuan Jeffries and Frank Mason III.

Jeffries is injured and Mason was not cleared for full participation, USA Basketball said. The team begins training camp in Houston on Saturday, in advance of games in Chihuahua, Mexico, against Cuba on Nov. 28 and Mexico on Nov. 29.

Thomas — an NBA free agent with hopes of getting back into the league — last appeared on the national team in February, starting two games during qualifying for the AmeriCup. He led the team with 14 points per game in those contests, with the U.S. defeating the Bahamas and Mexico.

Anderson played in AmeriCup qualifying games in February 2020, helping the U.S. to two wins.

The two games in Mexico are the first of six first-round games for the U.S. in World Cup qualifying. The Americans are also scheduled to play Puerto Rico on Feb. 24, Mexico on Feb. 27, Puerto Rico on July 1 and Cuba on July 4 in the opening qualifying round.

There are four teams in each of four qualifying groups out of the FIBA Americas region. The top three teams in each group move onto the second round of qualifying, which starts in August and runs through February 2023.

The World Cup — where teams can directly qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics — runs from Aug. 25-Sept. 10, 2023, with the final in the Philippines and other games taking place in Japan and Indonesia.

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