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Team USA tops marquee in Olympic qualifier

Team USA will play mostly in prime time during the opening round of the FIBA Americas Championship in August at the Thomas & Mack Center.

In their attempt to qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Americans will begin preliminary-round pool play in Group B at 8 p.m. Aug. 22 against Venezuela. Team USA’s second pool game will be against the U.S. Virgin Islands at 8 p.m. Aug. 23.

On Aug. 25, the USA-Canada game will start at noon, with the final pool game against Brazil on Aug. 26 at 6 p.m.

Times for subsequent rounds will be announced. The championship game will be Sept. 2, with the top two teams automatically qualifying for the Olympics.

Ticket packages for the event go on sale at 10 a.m. today at the Thomas & Mack box office and online at UNLVTickets.com. Tournament passes for all 42 games start at $149 for balcony seating, with plaza seats priced between $299 and $999. Premium seats in the first eight rows go for $2,000 apiece.

Individual daily session tickets will go on sale June 6.

The 10 teams competing are the United States, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Panama and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Team USA will hold training camp at Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus July 20-22 and will return to Las Vegas in August to prepare for the 12-day tournament.

Several player additions are expected to be announced next week, including Jason Kidd, Kevin Durant and Greg Oden. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is the head coach.

“I think it’s huge to be playing this championship in Las Vegas,” said Jerry Colangelo, Team USA managing director. “I was very excited when word came down that USA Basketball would be hosting this tournament in the United States because it’s going to be a factor, I really believe it. The energy in the building behind your team could be the difference, and I think Las Vegas will be very supportive.”

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