World Cup Finals Practice Quotes
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
I think Serbia is really as good as anybody in the tournament, and probably the hottest team, and they are playing a high level. They have stars on their team, and Teodosic is … I loved him when I saw him in the World Championship in 2010. Bogdanovic is a rising star. Their big guys are good. They are well coached, and they are strong. They can hurt you from many different positions, but they are just playing great basketball right now. Actually it’s beautiful to see. I hope I don’t see that beauty tomorrow night. They’ve been playing lights out basketball.
Is it surprising that after all these years, you’ve never actually faced Serbia?
You now, I’m not surprised. Again, I mentioned in one press conference I’m not surprised about anything. There are a lot of countries in the world. We’ve only played X amount of games, and so, though Serbia has played really well in competitions, it just hasn’t worked out, but it will work out tomorrow night.
What will the extra day of rest do for you?
It wasn’t really an extra day of rest. It was a travel day. That’s one thing about coming from Barcelona is we have to get a comfort level for this court quickly, whereas whoever we played would have had a week of playing on this court and not travel. So, we are glad that we had that travel day, because that means we won and that we are here playing on Sunday.
How big of a factor is their comfort level with the arena?
More so just the fact that you don’t have to move. Again, hopefully it’s not a huge factor or anything. But you would rather have that than travel, but that’s not going to decide the game. The game will be decided on whether we can play defense well enough to stop their very potent offense and score against their good defense.
What are you most pleased about with the team?
The team has been terrific. They’ve been consistently excellent in effort, attitude, defense, preparation. No team is consistently at a high level offensively, although they scored over 100 points … We shoot 53 percent, or something like that, but they’ve been a real pleasure to work with, and we’ve had a lot of interruptions and they’ve never made any excuses. They should be in this position to play for a world championship, and we’ll see what happens with it.
Are they nervous?
No, no. I think you are excited. We’re excited and respectful. You have to be on top of your game to win this thing, especially against Serbia. Serbia is playing so well. So, no. We are excited, proud, to be here and we would like to have our best effort tomorrow night.
Is the USA unbeatable?
No. U.S. is never … no one is unbeatable, in anything. Anyone who thinks they are unbeatable is going to get beat. We have a very good team and we are going to play against a very good team. They are older than we are, they have been together longer than we have and so, no. I hope we are unbeatable tomorrow night, but we go into the game never having that mindset, ever, ever, ever.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
What do you expect from tomorrow’s game? Did you expect Serbia to be in the finals?
We didn’t know what to expect. Obviously we’re on our side of the bracket and the other teams are fighting on the other side. It’s hard to kind of pay attention to everything that’s going on. I definitely watched the game yesterday and understand how well they’ve been playing. They had a little bit of a struggle in pool play but found a way to turn it on. They’re playing some great basketball right now, so we have to be prepared to come out and play a great 40 minutes and get a win.
Nemanja Nedovic is not here?
I think he’s in Serbia but rehabbing. I texted him yesterday and let him know we’re not going to take it easy on his boys. But I know he’s proud of what they’ve accomplished, and I know he wishes he could be here to play, but hopefully I got some smack talk for him when I get back to the States if we win.
Are you playing a European game here or an NBA game?
It’s a different basketball here, but it’s something we can adjust to. For us, we’re just trying to play like we normally do with different roles on this team. Everybody has a talent that got us to this point, and it’s about meshing all the talent together. Our coach has done a great job of that. We’ve established a style of play that is comfortable for us. We’ve been able to execute every single game. We want to have one more great performance and get a gold medal.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
What do you think of Serbia?
They’re a great team. They shoot the ball, they got a post presence, so we got to make sure we come out and defend. It’s going to be a tough game. They definitely have love and have a passion for the game, so we’re excited to play.
Are you nervous, confident?
We’re confident. This is what we came here for to play, this game, so we’re very confident in what we can do … knowing that they’re a great ball club too.
Your team didn’t have chemistry at the beginning but have you found it now?
I think we did have chemistry from the beginning. We’re a great ball club. We play together. We share the ball. We make sure that no one is getting down because they’re missing shots. We keep good spirits, so I think we’ve had chemistry from the beginning, and if we didn’t we wouldn’t be here right now.
What style does this team like to play?
Whatever we need to play. We like to pressure the ball, pressure the guards, run.
Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
What kind of challenges does Serbia present for you guys?
They got two really good guards, one that comes off the bench and one that starts. Also they have a great big. I believe if we stop those three main keys, we can win this game.
How is the team right now?
The team is great. We’re locked in; we’re focused. You got to have fun. We’re all out here having fun, just enjoying the time being here basically enjoying the time with each other.
Is USA unstoppable this year?
We’ll see what happens tomorrow. We’re just going to come out and play every game like we have been playing. If we play that way, then yeah, we probably will be unstoppable. But we got to see what happens because this team is different. They made it to the championship round when other teams thought they couldn’t, and we made it to the championship round while other teams thought we may fall. We are just going to go out there and put it all on the floor, just to win the gold.
What is the style of the USA team?
Just having fun. We got out there and enjoy each other’s company, pass the ball, share the ball and play great defense.
What would it mean for you to win gold medal?
It means a lot. We’re playing for something bigger than ourselves right now or just our respective (NBA) teams. We’re playing for our country and putting on that USA jersey means more than anything. It’s like you’re supporting the Army, the Navy, the Marines, guys who fight for you each and every day. We’re going out there and fighting for them.
You’ve played in playoff games … how will this compare?
A game seven, it’s just like a game seven. There is no turning back, no, ‘hey we got another game tomorrow.’ There is no ‘if we lose this one, we got to put it behind us because we got another one coming up.’ It’s a game 7 and every game has been a game 7 for us, so there’s no difference except a championship is on the line.
Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings)
On the USA’s slow starts:
We have to work on that. That’s something that we talked about in practice today. Obviously, we are in the championship game, so it’s now or never. You can’t come out slow with these guys. These guys are a great team. It’s one of those teams where if we slip up, we can lose this game. So we have to definitely be prepared.
Are you surprised you aren’t playing Spain?
No, nothing is surprising. This is the World Championship. Anybody can win it. And France showed that anybody can win. They came out, played well (against Spain), also played well against Serbia, so either of those teams could be in the final right now.
Has it been an easy road for the USA compared to 2010?
No, it hasn’t been easy. Both of them have been the same. Both times we played against very great teams. We played against Turkey in Turkey, which has the crowd in it. But either way, it’s going to be competitive.
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
On the championship game:
It’s everything for us. We came here with one thing on our mind, and that’s to win the gold medal. We’ve come this far. We’ve done an excellent job this far in this tournament, so one more game to complete our mission.
Does it feel different today? New venue, new city ..?
Same thing, same thing. Same arena, same look, normal practice day. Obviously, the game is the most important game. So, just go out there and don’t put too much pressure on ourselves. Just go out there and just do what we’ve been doing.
Is Coach K’s messaging about X’s and O’s or playing for your country?
Both. Represent our country; he says that every single day. That’s the reason we are here. Today we went over Serbia and what they like to do and their main players, kind of what they like to do as far as their sets, and tomorrow is execution day.
Did you watch them?
Yeah, I watched the game. I watched the second half, and it looked phenomenal.
What impressed you?
Their shooting. Their guards made some really big plays, knocked down some really big shots at the end of the game. France obviously did a great job, too, but they (Serbia) are a really good team. They are feisty and they are resilient. They don’t give up.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
Did you scout Serbia? Do you know their weaknesses?
I can’t say all that. I know that they’re playing great right now, and it’s all guard play and everybody is feeding off the guards.
Can compare this team to the Dream Team?
It’s far away from a Dream Team. It’s no comparison between us and the Dream Team. We have our own identity. We just have players who are trying to get their identity in the league, happy to be on this team. We’re just trying to put this behind us, but go out there, play hard and dedicate ourselves to getting rest tonight, because it’s going to be tough game tomorrow.
Do you have to play fast to win?
With them, you got to pick your poison. If you play fast, they can get some long rebounds and head the other way. They have great shooters on their team. It’s going to be a challenge for us. We haven’t played a team like that since the tournament, and we’re willing to take that challenge.
How are your knees?
I’m good. My knees are good, just trying to get a rhythm of the game. Hopefully you’ll see it tomorrow night.
What would it mean to you to get a gold medal especially considering you’re coming back from the injury?
On winning a gold medal:
Getting a gold medal period is an honor. It’s an achievement, an accolade that’s big. It’s pretty good to have. I’m just happy to be here. This is like my fourth or fifth time being in Madrid. I’ve been here a couple times with adidas and with the USA team. To actually play the championship game here is going to mean a lot, because here fans are really excited about basketball and the sport period. We’re playing against a great team.
On the team:
We have a lot of new guys who haven’t had international competition experience. Some people we don’t have the stars like we did in the Olympics, but I think we have some great young players coming up, who might not be as famous on the world stage but are really going to mark their mark in the NBA in the years to come.
How has the championship helped you?
It’s really cool to play against players from different parts of the world that you might not have the opportunity to play against. Most importantly, it’s great to play for your country. You get a great sense of pride that you don’t get to do playing for your NBA team. And you get to play with 11 other guys who are just as good if not better than you, and that’s rare to do.
Do you know anything about Serbia?
I’ve seen them. They play well as a team together. They really shoot the ball well. They play with a great sense of pride, and they play physical. We know they are not intimidated by the U.S. We know we are going to get their best game.