Homecoming for Nuggets F Kenneth Faried as USA Basketball trains in New York

The Manimal grew up across the river from Madison Square Garden
by Aaron Lopez

Anthony Davis and Derrick Rose stole the spotlight when the U.S. Men’s National Team made an extended stop in their hometown of Chicago.

Now it’s Kenneth Faried’s turn for a homecoming.

Faried and his American teammates are training in New York this week in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. The U.S. team will play the Dominican Republic on Wednesday and Puerto Rico on Friday at Madison Square Garden.

Faried, entering his fourth season with the Denver Nuggets, was born and raised in Newark, N.J., just across the river from the Garden.

“I love playing there,” he said before the Nuggets faced the New York Knicks last February. “It’s fun. It’s something I wanted to do growing up.”

Faried certainly appears to be enjoying himself as he bids for a spot on the U.S. World Cup roster. He started at power forward in Saturday’s exhibition victory against Brazil and finished with 11 points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes.

“It’s amazing,” he said.

“This is my first time putting on a USA jersey and really representing our country. It feels great to come out with a win.”

At 6-foot-8, Faried is undersized at his position, but that didn’t stop him from becoming the NCAA’s career rebound leader at Morehead State. It also didn’t stop him from earning a spot in Denver’s starting lineup midway through his rookie season.

Playing alongside Davis in the paint, Faried again has found his niche with USA Basketball by rebounding, playing defense and running the floor. His effort and energy are contagious throughout the roster.

“We are just going to play hard, play defense and get after it each and every night,” Faried said after the victory over Brazil.

“We have to win all of the hustle plays.”

Before resuming World Cup preparations, Faried and his teammates spent time with cadets and staff at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Monday. They toured the campus and ate in the mess hall before holding a workout at Christl Arena.

The U.S. team is scheduled to practice again Tuesday at the Brooklyn Nets’ practice facility in East Rutherford, N.J.