US men open vs China after Olympic basketball draw
The U.S. will open the Olympics against China and also will face Venezuela and Australia after being drawn Friday into what appears to be the easier men's basketball group.
The Americans will be in Group A, which will also include two teams that will be determined after three qualifying tournaments in July.
Group B includes Spain, Argentina, Lithuania, host Brazil, Nigeria and the remaining July qualifier.
The U.S., which has won the last two Olympic gold medals, is the No. 1-ranked country in the world. Spain, Lithuania and Argentina are Nos. 2-4 and Brazil is ninth.
Australia, China and Venezuela, which qualified by winning their regional zone championships, are all outside the top 10.
But the July tournaments feature strong teams such as France, Serbia and Greece, so the Americans could end up with two more strong opponents. The three six-team tournaments will be held from July 4-10, giving the winners an early start on having their teams ready for Rio.
''So we know that they'll not only be excellent teams, but they will already be on a roll when they get to the Olympics,'' U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement.
''We know that repeating as gold medalists at the 2016 Olympics will be a challenge, and that's what makes winning a gold medal such an amazing accomplishment.''
The draw was conducted in Mies, Switzerland, at the headquarters of FIBA, basketball's world governing body.
The Olympic competition opens Aug. 6 and the top four teams in each pool advance to the quarterfinals.