MISSISSAUGA, Ontario – USA Basketball men’s national team director Sean Ford has his laptop open, scouting a G-League game between the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and Oklahoma City Blue at the Hershey Centre in this suburban Toronto city.
Ford is at the annual G-League Showcase, featuring 26 games in four days. League executives, scouts and agents are the primary spectators. There are also fans who want to see pro basketball – the NBA’s growing minor league – up close at a reasonable price.
In previous years, Ford wouldn’t be at a G-League game. There was no reason for it.
But now with FIBA’s new World Cup qualifying system, which mirrors FIFA’s months-long World Cup soccer qualifying process, competition segments fall during the NBA season, preventing NBA players from participating.
So, USA Basketball turned to the next best American players available: G-Leaguers.
“There’s a sense of perceived failure for players who don’t get to the NBA – that people think they’re not good players, and it’s just not…