Justin Anderson continued to impress for Team USA, scoring 17 points and snagging six rebounds in a win over Puerto Rico in Washington on Sunday.
The Long Island Net, who had a 10-day stint with the parent club in January, took time off from his full time job to join the U.S. national team.
To Anderson, winning in a Team USA uniform holds special value. He believes winning for his country is much bigger than winning in college and in the NBA.
“I think it’s the highlight because this is something that’s so much bigger than just college basketball, this is so much bigger than the NBA,” Anderson told Steve Drumwright of USA Basketball. “This is playing for your country, this is being able to go and represent your country in a way that only a few hands are likely to do in any sport, soccer, basketball, whatever. This is the top of the top.”
Anderson won two gold medals with Team USA when he was a teenager in the 2009 FIBA U16 Americas Championship and the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship. Currently, he is playing a vital role, helping the U.S. qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. So far, Team USA are 2-0 with wins over Puerto Rico in the FIBA AmeriCup Qualifying Games.
After recording two straight wins, Team USA will play in four more games in the qualifying tournament. Up next, Team USA hosts two games at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C., against the Bahamas on November 27 and against Mexico on November 30. The final two games will feature the USA at the Bahamas on February 18 and at Mexico three days later.
It’s all part of FIBA’s new —and controversial— qualifying regime.
Anderson, who is thriving in his newest opportunity with Team USA, has not had the smoothest road during his NBA career. Since being drafted with the 21st overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks, Anderson has been a part of four NBA teams and three G League teams.
For Anderson, his journey has been a whirlwind. He believes he belongs in the NBA. He has decided against playing overseas where could make a lot more money. His end goal remains making it back to the league.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Anderson told Drumwright. “I mean, it’s been shown of so many emotions with the lows of sitting at home and watching your friends play and watching guys compete when it’s the season and you’re not able to do it, you have to sit at home and you have to go work out twice a day. And you’re just like, ‘Man, why am I still doing summer workouts? I belong out there.’”
The Nets appear to be quite interested in him. After calling him up from the Raptors affiliate, they traded for his G League rights, sending Henry Ellenson, who was one of their two-ways, to Raptors 905.
Anderson, a college teammate and friend of Joe Harris, has played very well since his arrival in Long Island, posting averages of 23.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and three assists on 49 percent overall and 37 percent from deep in 8.7 attempts per game.
After his Team USA stint, Anderson is with the Long Island Nets for Monday night’s game against the Greensboro Swarm, the Hornet G League affiliate. He is available to play.
- Justin Anderson Relishing Opportunity to Help U.S. in AmeriCup Qualifiers - Steve Drumwright - USA Basketball