LAS VEGAS (AP) — The spot that USA Basketball hopes to have in next year's FIBA World Cup cannot be clinched nor lost on Friday, when the Americans play host to Uruguay to begin the second round of qualifying.

This much is certain: The road to China gets a whole lot smoother with a win.

Should the Americans beat Uruguay in Las Vegas on Friday night, they would be assured of having a two-game lead over the fourth-place team in Group E with five games left in qualifying. And that's all that matters — to be guaranteed of reach the World Cup, the U.S. needs only to finish in the top three of the group standings.