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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

rudy gay
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Team USA has tapped Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay to replace Kevin Durant on the FIBA World Cup team that will compete in Spain beginning later this summer.

Gay previously played for and was “a tremendous contributor” on the 2010 world championship, gold medal winning team, averaging seven points as a steady reserve.

Perhaps more than any numbers he might be able to contribute this time around, Gay figures to be even more important to the cause if only for the reason he stands to bring a raised level of enthusiasm and passion to a team spiritually reeling from a series of player withdrawals (Kevin Love and Kawhi Leonard) and injuries (Paul George and Blake Griffin).

According to ESPN, mere minutes after Durant made the shocking announcement that he too was pulling out, reps for Gay called USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and informed him the veteran forward was interested and available to suit up.

“We both felt he would be a valuable addition because of his outstanding skills and the fact that he is so familiar with USA Basketball and our national team program,” Colangelo said of his and coach Mike Krzyzewski’s decision to take Gay up on his offer. “Rudy has been an integral member of USA Basketball since 2005 and was a tremendous contributor to our 2010 world championship team. He has a lot of equity in the USA Basketball national team.”

The 16-member team is set to resume practicing in Chicago next week and is scheduled to play its first tournament game on Aug. 30. By then, the roster will have been cut to 12 players, with Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving now rating as the only shoo-ins to make the roster.

“I am extremely excited to once again be part of Team USA and its rich tradition,” said Gay, who averaged 20 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Kings and Raptors last season. “I can’t wait to join my teammates in Chicago and work hard to make certain the USA takes home the gold in Spain.”

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