Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried heading to Spain with Team USA

The Manimal selected after steady performance in exhibition play
by Aaron Lopez

El hombre known as the Manimal is heading to Spain.

After another impressive exhibition performance with USA Basketball, Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried was among the 12 players selected to represent the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

“It means a lot to me to be a part of an elite group and represent our country in Spain,” Faried said Saturday.

“I can't wait to take the court with these guys and come back home a gold medalist! Allah has been truly merciful to me throughout this process. I want to thank him and everyone who was in my corner supporting me.”

Faried started all three exhibition game for Team USA, averaging 9.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shots in 15.3 minutes. He was a picture of efficiency Friday night against Puerto Rico, finishing with 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting, five rebounds and two blocks in a 112-86 victory at Madison Square Garden.

While Faried was confident he would make the final roster, it didn’t become official until late Friday night when USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo announced the final 12 names.

"Since taking over the USA Basketball men's national team program in 2005, this was without doubt the most difficult selection process we've gone through," Colangelo said in a statement.

"I can't stress enough the outstanding effort and commitment that has been given by each finalist. I also want to make it clear that this is not just about talent; each player is incredibly talented and each player offered us unique skills. In the end, it was about assembling the best team, selecting guys who we felt would be able to best play the kind of style we envision this team playing."

Joining Faried on the team are DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), Rudy Gay (Sacramento), James Harden (Houston Rockets), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets), Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) and Klay Thompson (Golden State).

"I'm excited about the 12 players selected and feel we have excellent versatility and the makings of a really good defensive team,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Faried and Team USA now travel to Spain for practice Sunday and Monday before their final exhibition game against Slovenia on the island of Gran Canaria. They open World Cup preliminary play Aug. 30 against Finland in Bilbao, Spain.

View photos of Faried from USA Basketball's exhibition games here.