Additional Quotes: USA Men's Pan American Games Team 87, Dominican Republic 82
USA Head Coach Mark Few (Gonzaga)
On where the game ranked among crazy games in his career:
Probably up near, if not the top — close to it. It was not looking good. We waited until our backs were firmly pinned against the proverbial wall, and then we responded. Through that whole time, though, Ron Baker was just playing his tail off, and I think that kind of kept us alive. And then Bobby (Brown) got going, and Damien (Wilkins) had a couple of big plays, everybody -- Taurean (Waller-Prince) got us going and knocked a couple of balls loose. We just started being way more proactive.
On what coming back from a 21-point defect says about the team:
I think it says everything about them. And as I told them afterward, I am hoping it is something they can use for the rest of their lives, even if it is not sports related. Adversity hits, and it can be in its bleakest moment, you still have to fight. For sports, this was about the bleakest moment you could have for this group, who came in desperately wanting to win a gold, got their hearts broken, what was it 12 hours ago, or 14 hours ago? To come back in a game like this with nobody in the stands. You have to dig really, really deep, deeper than most of us ever get for long stretches in our life. I think that is not only what it says, but it is something they can carry with them the rest of their lives.
On the team effort:
(Ron) Baker did what he did. Malcolm (Blogdon) got in there and made some big plays. Kaleb (Tarczewski) and Ryan (Hollins) were flying around at the five. These teams here are hard to guard for these fives because all their bigs can kind of pick-and-pop out there. It is stuff that someone like Kaleb probably isn’t really used to. I salute their service to our country. I salute their service to USA Basketball. They could have been doing anything. They gave up their bodies. They gave up their time and all their effort to do this. I really commend them for that.
On the experience:
It is something you will remember for the rest of your life. But you also have friends now for the rest of your life. Anytime that I have done anything with USA Basketball, I literally created friendships for the rest of my life. It is as great of an organization you can be associated with in my world, the basketball world. From that regard it is awesome. The relationship you build with your staff is something. I remember Billy (Donovan) and Shaka (Smart) and I (2012 USA Basketball U18 National Team) were really close. Mike (Brown) and Tad (Boyle) and I will carry this for the rest of our lives. It is a huge professional development. You don’t get that chance often. You grow as a coach doing this stuff and being around guys like Tad and Mike and talking all the time. It is unbelievably valuable from a coaching standpoint.
On the coaching staff:
They are the gold standard of coaches. I have known Tad (Boyle) for a long time. He is a worker with just a great feel for the game and great rapport with the players. He always has your back and knows exactly what to say. And Mike, I have been blown away with, first of all, what a great guy he is, and his knowledge of the game in every aspect and what he has seen and experienced. And then he shares it in a really open way. It's been great. I have known Tad for a quite a while, but getting to know Mike has been a real blessing for me.
Ron Baker (Wichita State University/Scott City, Kan.)
On winning a bronze medal:
It means a lot. Obviously, you would rather take home a medal than none at all. I think it was just a quick turnaround for us after losing that tight game last night. For us to bring home some hardwood means a lot to us.
On the turnaround in the game:
We mixed up our ball screen defense there in the third quarter. We started trapping the point guard when he came off screens and our rotations were good. We were able to get some steals and get out in transition, and some guys made some big shots down the stretch.
On his efforts in the last two games:
I think I was being a little more aggressive and a little more confident, especially these last two games. It was good to hit some shots and get a feel for the game a little more — kind of accepting my role. I didn’t really know what to expect early on in the tournament. For me to come out and be aggressive, have nothing to lose, I prevailed and showed that I can play this game.
On the experience:
It has been great. It has been fun to learn from these vets. It has been a long three weeks of practice and preparation, and it has paid off. I have learned a lot in the process, and it has been a lot of fun.
Bobby Brown (Dangguan Leopards, China/Los Angeles, Calif.)
How memorable is this comeback?
Very. To be in the hole for the whole game, battling adversity again, for us to come out there and play like we did tonight and to get the win — even though we had a tough game last night — it showed a lot of character and a lot of poise from everybody, and we all stayed together. It is a great feeling now that we won that game.
What does it say about the team that you didn’t quit?
We got a bunch of guys that were hungry tonight, hungry the whole time. But to do everything we did in three weeks was incredible, as far as being on point with all of the different schemes. Seven college guys and five pros, for us to buy in that fast, it was incredible.
What does it mean to go home with a medal?
It means a lot. We didn’t want to go home empty handed. For us to go home with the bronze medal, even thought that wasn’t our ultimate goal, to go home with something. To go out there and play hard and represent USA, I think we did that well.
What did you think of the experience?
It was fun. I’m glad I was a part of it. I’m glad I got the invite to come here and meet these guys, the staff, and just to live in the Colorado Springs in the dorms, and the whole environment brought back memories from college. It was fun. It was all about basketball. That’s what we all came here for. That is what the five pros get paid to do, and that’s our life.
Taurean Waller-Prince (Baylor University/San Antonio, Texas)
On the USA’s comeback:
When we came into halftime, the vets really spoke up and said we are not just playing for the bronze, we are playing for our reputation, each other, the people that we live for. So, we just came out with a different intensity than we had the first half, and it made a difference.
On his crucial 3 (that tied the game 81-81):
I think that’s why I’m on the team, just the versatility and being able to spread the floor. So, I was wide and Bobby Brown made a good play going right. He kicked it out and trusted me, and I just hit the shot. We still had to get a stop. And then we got a stop, they fouled and I made a couple of free throws, and that was that.
Did you think it was going in when you let it go?
Yeah. Everything I shoot I feel like is going in, but some of them don’t and some of them do. That one just happened to.
How fulfilling is it to go home with a medal?
It’s a great feeling. It's my first time being a part of USA Basketball. To win something not only for yourself, but for your country and the guys that you have been working so hard for, sacrificing a whole month of your life just to be around nobody but them and talking to your family from afar. And to come out with something, it gives you a sense of happiness going home knowing that all of this was not for nothing.
Damien Wilkins (Indios de Mayagüez, Puerto Rico/Orlando, Fla.)
How fulfilling was that comeback?
It’s one I’m going to remember for a while. That’s what it is about, though. We came out, and we were shooting ourselves in the foot pretty much all game long, just making bone-head play after bone-head play. And then we fought. We just kept fighting. That’s the one thing that I am inspired by with this team — we got a bunch of guys who just didn’t want to quit. We could have packed it in. In that third quarter when we were down 21, we could have just given up, but we didn’t. We kept fighting, and we came out with the win.
On his offensive rebound and put-back score to put the USA up by two points (83-81):
Coach has been preaching, 'go to the offensive glass,' all tournament long, and he said that is where we can really take advantage of teams. I tried to do that throughout the week. I didn’t get many tonight, but you keep pursuing, keep pursuing, eventually one is going to fall to you, and that’s what happened.
It looked like you were anticipating Bobby Brown taking that shot?
I knew from playing from him. You know when Bobby gets below a certain point, he's probably going to shoot it. I was just ready for the opportunity to get the rebound.
How fulfilling is it to go home with a medal?
It feels great to me. I said earlier I feel like this is a gold medal for me. People can say what they want, but I had never worn a USA jersey. I had never competed in a tournament like this. I had never had an opportunity to win a medal. So, for me, this means everything.