USA to open against Puerto Rico at basketball worlds

TOKYO -- The U.S. team led by LeBron James will face Puerto
Rico at the world basketball championships in August, providing a
chance to avenge its lopsided loss at the Athens Olympics.

The opening game on Aug. 19 in Sapporo, Japan, will be a rematch
of a 92-73 loss to Puerto Rico at the 2004 Olympics. That
opening-game loss marked only the third Olympic defeat for the
Americans and first since adding professional players. The United
States finished with a bronze medal at the games.

Sunday's draw put the top-seeded U.S. team in Group D along with
Slovenia, Italy, China and Senegal.

"It's a very competitive group," said USA Basketball executive
director Jim Tooley. "The Puerto Rican team is familiar with our
style of play, we both know each other well and hopefully the
result will be better this time."

The United States last won gold at Toronto in 1994, and placed a
disappointing sixth at the 2002 tournament in Indianapolis.

Defending champion Serbia-Montenegro will play Nigeria in the
opening round. Serbia-Montenegro, formerly Yugoslavia, has a record
five world titles and is in Group A with Argentina, which won gold
in Athens.

James committed to the U.S. team on Saturday. He told USA
Basketball chief Jerry Colangelo that he would play at this year's
world championships and the 2008 Olympics.

Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs will not be a part of the
U.S. team. Philadelphia's Allen Iverson has said he is willing to
make the commitment.

Colangelo is expected to announce the first batch of camp
invitees by the NBA All-Star break in mid-February. The team will
be coached by Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.

The 24-team 2006 FIBA Men's World Championship will be held Aug.
19-Sept. 3.