Additional Quotes >> USA 135, Puerto Rico 91
On today's game:
A lot of people always think it is a done deal with our team, and Puerto Rico was so good in that first half and we knew they would be because they can control tempo with their terrific guards. Our guys really started out the second half and Melo went on one of those streaks that reminded me of the game we played against Italy in the World Championships and at one quarter he just took off. We did a little thing against the zone and those just work well when people hit shots and make baskets. He just gave us such a lift. I'm proud of our guys they represented our country well they represented international basketball well and hopefully we can close out and play well again tomorrow but we're very very honored to be one of the qualifying teams for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. You could not have a more proud team than this U.S. team in going to represent their country.
Can you talk a little bit about the contribution of Nate McMillan. Defensively it sounds like he has helped a lot.
Our staff is superb. Nate, I've known him since he was a player at NC State, he played for a legendary coach there in Jimmy Valvano. He's a classy guy who knows his stuff. He's made adjustments on our defense throughout that have helped us. He's a good man. We have good men. Mike D'Antoni, Jim Boeheim, we all get along. Really, I consider all of us the head coach because they can talk to the team at any time and I'm fine with that. They give the scouting report right before today's game and Nate's going through everything and then I add a few things and then tomorrow will be Mike D'Antoni. That's just the way we try to do it.
Talk about the addition of Kobe Bryant this year and what he adds defensively as well as just part of this time and being a unifying force on the team.
Kobe's done all the little things. He's one top offensive player on the perimeter, which I think is a good statement for the rest of the team. It's as if he said, hey I've scored 50 points a few times in NBA games but I want that good shooter or that scorer. I've been pleased with the blend. When we're talking about Kobe, I'd just like to mention Dwyane Wade. We don't have Dwyane (this year). Dwyane was an integral part of what we did last summer. Kobe being here this summer helps in that regard. It helps in plenty of other ways, but it helps because we didn't have Dwyane. When we get him back, that will make us even stronger. We sense the commitment from these guys and it shows in a guy like Dwyane Wade. He's here. He's supporting these guys and that's the type of camaraderie that these guys have developed
Can you comment on Michael Redd's performance in the second half and how you see him fitting into the future of the team?
I think we're going to let him shoot. We're going to set some screens for him ... he fits in great. Michael's defense has been pretty good. It's interesting to me, some of the perceptions of these guys that are out there and I've been with them for a few weeks. They're the most unselfish, they're good guys, I've never had one second of a problem and I'm leading up to the fact that they love when Michael Redd shoots. All of them are cheering for him. They love it and I'm sure Michael loves it too. He's proven himself this summer.
Will you approach tomorrow any differently?
We'll approach it the same. Both teams are ecstatic to be qualified for the Olympics. We'd just like to finish off playing really well. In the big scheme of things I guess it doesn't mean much. But the fact that we're playing, we're representing our country, we're going to go out and play really hard; continue to play as well as we have. I want to congratulate Argentina for playing so well. I feel bad for Brazil with Nene's injury, but Argentina did a terrific job and it'll be an honor to play against them tomorrow.
When they cut the lead to six points, were you surprised that Arroyo spent so much time on the bench?
A little bit but we changed our defense and we trapped from our five and that seemed to disrupt them a little bit. I didn't know what the reason was but there's a lot of energy put out there in that first quarter. It could be conditioning, I don't know, but we tried to adjust accordingly. I have a hard enough time trying to coach my team than to figure out what they're doing. You're always looking to see what kind of adjustments you need to make.
Will you look back now and see Greece as a blessing in disguise?
I think it's always important to make a positive out of everything that you do. I do think we'll be much better prepared for China as a result of playing together for these three weeks and playing 10 games internationally. Our guys are getting to know the international game. We're starting to take the ball off the rim after a free throw. We're getting adjusted to the physicality of the game, so that's a plus. Going back, would we rather have won? I think we would rather have won. Just the preparation helps us in our ultimate goal and that is the pursuit of a gold medal in Beijing.
Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
What do you think it is that has evolved over the last couple of weeks where you seem to have been the one who has been pushed to the front in terms of the one that's the story? Also, how bad do you feel about what happened back in 2004?
To go back to 2004, we as a country have to have that memory in the back of our minds. We know what's at stake and what our goal is and that's to not only win this tournament that we're playing in right now but win the Olympics, get that gold medal. I think we're headed to the right direction. We're on the right path. As long as the staff keep doing what they're doing, they're doing a great job, as long as Mr. Colangelo keeps doing what he's doing, I think we'll be good.
I just play. Regardless of what kind of game it is, I'm able to adjust to it. It's not like I'm out there trying to score 20 or 30 points, it just happens. It sounds funny but it's almost like it comes naturally to me. The game is fun. Sometimes I almost like the international games better than I like the NBA games.
The 3-point shooting has been much better this year than in years past. Are you guys just more comfortable with that international three-point line or is there something else that's contributing to it?
I think everybody worked on it. Everybody was reading the print, watching TV. Everybody was saying we can't shoot, we have no shooters on this team and I think in this tournament we proved that we can do everything. We can shoot, we can defend, we can score multiple ways.
Talk about the addition of Kobe Bryant this year and what he adds defensively as well as just part of this time and being a unifying force on the team.
With Kobe, he brings a leader. He's a tough-minded guy. It's not just him. We have Jason Kidd, we have Chauncey [Billups] we have Amare (Stoudemire) back here from working with us last summer. And all those guys saw what happened last summer and they're excited to be here. When you get 12 guys that's excited to play with each other, there's really nothing that can break you apart.
Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons
On the Game:
The game was good. They played really well. They had it going early and we exploded. That's the beauty of our team is we are always a couple plays away from opening it up.
On the USA 3-point shooting:
That was unbelievable. That is the capabilities we have as a team. We can get it going at any point, we can get it going. That's why we are so dangerous.
On tomorrow's game vs. Argentina:
We come to win. That's what this thing is all about is winning it all. And every opportunity we step on the court, we're trying to win.
On the USA Basketball Experience:
It's great. I expected it to be like this and it's exceeded my expectations ï¿½ coming together, sacrificing each other's, maybe some of our talents for the betterment of the group.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
What happened in that third quarter to blow the game open?
We were hot, we were hot. It didn't feel like it when we were in the moment because you just kept playing each play. But we got into one of those grooves and blew the game open.
Are you the favorites to win the gold in Beijing?
Well we're certainly one of them, but until you knock off Argentina, the defending champions, you're not the favorite.
On clinching the Olympic spot:
It was very important because that is where you want to be, at the Olympics, obviously and having a good showing here. That being said, we have a game to play tomorrow and we want to try to finish it out on a good note.
Are you worried about let down for tomorrow?
No, I don't think so. We are going up against Argentina and they are going to be ready. We're very excited about the matchup, see what type of adjustments they make going in tomorrow because they know they will. Extremely confident, extremely well coached and we have to be ready.
On the offensive flow and on Carmelo Anthony:
That's just how we play. That's just the flow of the game, the way our team is built. He gets the ball in good rhythm and good flow in transition, knock down shots, offensive rebounds, getting to the free throw line. He's our main man in terms of putting the ball in the hole.
If the 2004 Olympics has helped motivate this team:
I'm sure it has. (Carmelo) and LeBron and D-Wade as well. They are guys who are hungry because they have been there and seen the other side of it. They want to come out on top this time.
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
How does it feel to qualify for the Olympics?
It feels great. You know it's a blessing to play in the Olympics. I can't wait. But we got a game tomorrow and our goal is to win the gold. No letdown. We want to dominate the whole way.
It was wild to see the three-point barrage. Your reaction to the hot shooting?
It was a wild thing to see for me, too. I think that little spurt we went 11 of 12 from the three-point line between I'll say the two 'Mikes' [Mike Miller and Michael Redd]. It was fun to watch. Hopefully they continue to shoot the ball as well as they have been.
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Is the weight lifted by making the Olympics?
That's what we came here to do, but we also came here not to lose. We still have one more game and we want to go home undefeated.
Is this team improving its shooting?
We've always been doubted as a good shooting team. Teams have been able to pack in the zone and make us shoot it. But we got Michael Redd, Mike Miller, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant. You don't have to worry about anyone packing in the zone on us any more.
Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets
On the best part of playing on this team:
I think the greatest thing was to see the young guys work and how hard they work. Me and LeBron, we go shoot every day. He wants to work. The big thing is that the game is in good hands. When you talk about LeBron, Deron, Mike Miller, these guys that come over and shoot early. They love the game and they want to get better.
On the international experience:
The more games you can get under your belt especially for these younger guys, I think it will be better come the Olympics. Tonight was an Olympic-type game where all the things aren't going your way but you're still up 15.
Mike Miller, Memphis Grizzlies
Is this team shooting the ball well?
We're getting better shooting. We put some guys on this team who can really shoot the ball well, and it carries over. You see guys making shots; and it gets easier to make shots. It's a matter of us getting better from the 3-point line and work on our weaknesses.
View on facing Argentina for the gold?
It should be a great game. They will be ready to compete, and we'll definitely be ready. It should be a fun game with the gold on the line.
Michael Redd, Milwaukee Bucks
Your sense of what you and the team accomplished today?
God is good, man. Tonight we did a terrific job of attacking and not coming out lazy. We knew Puerto Rico wanted to get this win. But our job is not over. We have one more game and the goal is to win the gold.
Any explaining what you did out there?
It was a lot of fun. Just doing what I do. I don't worry about slumps. We just go play basketball and shoot. The team had a lot of fun tonight.
The crowd was behind you with every shot. How did that feel?
We were having fun. Your teammates are jumping around. It was great, man, just great. The thing about it is that a lot of the shots weren't forced. Guys were playing unselfish. Mike Miller caught fire a little bit; Tayshaun hit a couple of threes. It was a total team effort tonight.
Amarï¿½ Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
Is making the Olympics a relief or an accomplishment?
It is an accomplishment. But we still have one more game. We play Argentina for the gold and that is our focus.
Was the competition in the tournament that bad, or are you that good?
I think we're that good. From a defensive standpoint we have athletic guys who are making their best efforts to play defense. I think that's what it takes to become a successful offensive team as well. We're on the right track.
MANOLO CINTRON, PUERTO RICO HEAD COACH
What are your expectations for tomorrow's game?
Brazil has a very structural team. I think we should prepare for tomorrow's game as we prepare for any of our games. We need to get into court strong and move the basketball around. All we have to do is play the game as we have been playing and stay strong. Tomorrow's game is very important for us.
What was your strategy not bringing Arroyo back into the game?
The truth is that I believed that our players coming in from the bench could handle the job. Some of our starting players were tired, and since we have a talented group of players on the bench, I decided to give them a chance. Unfortunately they could not balance the game, and we finished fifteen points down. I had confidence on the bench; it was not a strategy to keep our starting players out. I just happened that way.
CARLOS ALBERTO ARROYO BERMUDEZ, PUERTO RICO
Do you think that the players from the bench were the key factor for the result of this game?
It was very unfortunate that we had a bad game in the second half. Everyone had the opportunity to play, but the work in the second half was not strong enough. We could pretty much balance the game through the first half, but I think they could not dominate the rebounds in the second. Observing the game, I think the key factor was not focusing more on what we were there to do. Unfortunately things like this happen if you are not focused. Knowing the type of team the United States is; if we don't try, we don't win. Our defense was lacking. They made a lot of three-pointers because of that. Tomorrow we will play again against a strong team. Brazil knows how to play great and counts with strong talent.
How significant will it be if Puerto Rico walks out of this tournament with the bronze medal?
It will be very significant to us. It was already very significant for us to get into this round. It was a gift and an opportunity that we will not take for granted. We have to understand though that what happened in the first round cannot happen now. We are just happy to be representing Puerto Rico and for this opportunity, but it would be very significant leaving this tournament with the bronze.