Carmelo Anthony makes frank assessment, prayer after USA draws Serbia in 2024 Paris Olympics

Published March 20, 2024, 11:50 AMNBA.com Philippines Staff

The 2020 Olympic gold medalist USA is drawn with Serbia, South Sudan, and the winner of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico.

Carmelo Anthony participated in the draw held in Mies, Switzerland.

The 2024 Paris Olympics men's basketball tournament will not be a walk in the park for 2020 gold medalist USA, warned FIBA ambassador Carmelo Anthony during the group stage draw.

USA has been drawn with 2023 FIBA World Cup silver medalist Serbia, debuting South Sudan, and the winner of the San Juan Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for Group C.

It will be the first USA-Serbia clash in the Olympics since 2016.

For Anthony, it's clear that international men’s teams "feel confident and comfortable enough to go out there and compete with the USA."

"It’s all about confidence that these other players and countries have," said Anthony, one of two three-time men’s basketball gold medalists along with Kevin Durant.

"As far as USA goes, I am praying and hoping that we send the correct team out there. I know what it feels like when you have the right team that’s out there and you go out there trying to win. I’m sure the US will bring the guys that they need to bring in order to get that feeling back," he said.

Anthony knows what that is like. As a FIBA ambassador, he was a witness to Team USA's stunning loss at the 2023 FIBA World Cup in Manila.

Steve Kerr's squad finished fourth after the loss to eventual World Cup champion Germany in the semifinals.

"This is not 1992 anymore," Anthony declared last year. "Players are better all over the world. Teams are better, and it's not easy to win a World Cup or an Olympic game."

[ALSO READ: Carmelo Anthony on stunning USA loss in FIBA World Cup: 'We have to respect the game a lot more'

Team USA seems to have been jolted by that outcome. Last January, the organization released a 41-player pool, led by LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Jayson Tatum, for the Paris Olympics. 

"I’m looking forward to the challenge of preparing for and playing in the Olympic tournament," Kerr said.

"The excitement continues to build, especially now that we know we will face both Serbia, who finished second at the World Cup last summer, and South Sudan, who we will get to host in London as part of the USA Basketball Showcase."

Serbia reached the World Cup finals with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nikola Jovic. They could be bolstered by two-time MVP Nikola Jokic in the Olympics.

South Sudan had a Cinderella run in the World Cup held in Manila, led by star Carlik Jones.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico will clash against Mexico, Ivory Coast, Lithuania, Italy, and Bahrain for the lone spot in the OQT.

In Group A, 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Australia and World Cup third placer Canada await two qualifying tournament winners — one from Spain (participating nations Spain, Finland, Poland, Bahamas, Lebanon, Angola) and the other in Greece (participating nations Slovenia, New Zealand, Croatia, Egypt, Dominican Republic and Greece).

Olympic silver medalist and host France, featuring Victor Wembanyama, headlines Group B and will face World Cup champion Germany, Japan and the winner of the Latvia qualifying tournament (Georgia, Philippines, Latvia, Brazil, Cameroon, Montenegro).

"There are no groups that are easy after this draw," FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis said.

"Whoever you see smiling, just say, ‘Well, see you in August.’"

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.