Curtis Sumpter's ambition is still alive. After five practice sessions held in Tulsa, Oklahoma over the weekend, the field of 21 invitees for the 2011 USA Basketball Men's Pan Am Games team was cut to 15. One more cut is coming (by October 22) to bring the roster down to the 12 players who will travel to Guadalajara, Mexico between October 26-30.
Sumpter, wh o hopes to work his way to the NBA after a stint playing hoops in Europe, remains in Tulsa after the first cut.
The camp is being run by Tulsa 66ers head coach Nate Tibbetts, who will also be the head coach of Team USA for the Pan Am games.
"Coming in you never know what kind of shape the guys are going to be in and I thought they were in good shape. The guys competed at a high level and it is tough making cuts, but we felt comfortable getting down to our 15," said Tibbetts.
"I think our perimeter is formidable, we’ve got some guys that can handle the basketball and not just at the one, the two or the three. We’re going to have to be a team that guards people on every possession and were asking our bigs to do some things that maybe they haven’t been asked to do. So getting that group of bigs to come along defensively is important, but we’ve got some bigs that can really shoot it and we’re excited about that."
Initial player selections were made by the USA Basketball Men’s Pan American Games Committee, approved by USA Basketball's Board of Directors and will be subject to final approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer.
This weekend was about trying to see what guys can do. The 15 finalists, however, will all be prepared as if they are going to the games.
"I think we’ve now got to step up our offensive execution, we’ve got start putting some more stuff in. We kind of tried to keep it basic here just so we could see guys play. We didn’t want to overwhelm them, have them thinking about too many things, and so now we can really start focusing on our prep for Guadalajara," added Tibbetts.
Curtis Sumpter should know whether he will don the red white and blue in competition by the end of this week.