USA Basketball heaved a huge sigh of relief on Tuesday night with the news that Zach LaVine will get to play for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics. The Chicago Bulls guard got the go-signal to join his teammates in Japan after clearing health and safety protocols.
LaVine was not able to fly with Team USA to Tokyo earlier this week due to contact tracing, which is part of USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols. USA Basketball released a statement at that time, saying LaVine was left out of the flight “out of an abundance of caution.”
LaVine given ‘all-clear’ after quarantine
USA Basketball needed to take extra precautions after a COVID-19 scare engulfed Team USA’s preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. Washington Wizards superstar and Team USA starter Bradley Beal had to back out of the Summer Games after testing positive for COVID-19. Jerami Grant was then sidelined for four days as he was subjected to contact-tracing quarantine, the same protocols applied to LaVine.
Fortunately for Grant and LaVine, COVID-19 tests returned negative, and they have been given the all-clear to strut their wares for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics. Grant made the first flight with Team USA to Tokyo while LaVine would head out to Japan on Thursday.
LaVine’s inclusion to the Team USA squad is great news for head coach Gregg Popovich as he has proven to be a vital cog for his Olympic side. He stepped up big time in Beal’s absence, starting in Team USA’s last two exhibition matches against Argentina and Spain.
LaVine recorded 15 points, five rebounds, and a steal in Team USA’s 108-80 win over Argentina before solidifying his spot as Team USA’s starting shooting guard with an excellent performance in the 83-76 victory against Spain. LaVine scored 13 points, grabbed two rebounds, and dished out two assists in 22 minutes of play against the reigning World Cup champions.
LaVine is Team USA’s third-leading scorer behind stalwarts Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, averaging 10.3 points through the four exhibition games they played.
Booker, Holiday and Middleton join Team USA after NBA Finals stint
More reinforcements are on the way for Team USA apart from LaVine as Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday are soon headed to Tokyo as well. The trio just took part in an enthralling NBA Finals series that lasted a grueling six games.
According to ESPN‘s Marc Spears, the three players are scheduled to depart for Tokyo on Friday via a private plane provided by USA Basketball. The said flight will come just three days after Holiday and Middleton’s Milwaukee Bucks ousted Booker’s Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
All three players had spectacular performances in the championship series. Booker led the Suns in scoring, averaging 28.2 points through the six games played in the Finals. Middleton averaged 24.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists for the Bucks, while Holiday recorded averages of 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and a team-leading 9.3 assists in the NBA Finals.
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