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Jeff Van Gundy

Additional Quotes: USA 74, Uruguay 66

  • Date:
    Aug 29, 2017

• Game Recap
• Box Score
• Photo Gallery

Jeff Van Gundy (USA head coach)
What did you think of the game and Uruguay’s play?
I’m really impressed with their team. I’ve watched a lot of their games since I took this job. I think coach (Marcelo) Signorelli is an unbelievable coach. Their three best players - (Jayson) Granger, (Bruno) Fitipaldo and (Esteban) Batista - they are as good as any three in this competition. I want to reiterate what Reggie (Hearn) said. I loved the atmosphere. I loved how classy the fans were. They cheered their team, but after the game, they cheered us, as well. We’ve really enjoyed our time here. We’re really thankful for this opportunity.

The USA had a sluggish start in the first. What was the key there?
We were slow to the ball, but I want to give Uruguay credit too. It was a home game, and they were ready and came out and attacked us. Thankfully, I think we responded coming off the bench.

What was satisfying about winning on their home court?
I don’t think there’s any better five minutes in life than coming back into a locker room after a great road win. That sense of satisfaction - everybody contributed. That part was really good.

What was special about Uruguay’s big three (Batista, Fitipaldo, Granger) tonight?
So, in the United States, it’s called a nightmare trying to defend him (Esteban Batista). But, I enjoyed it because he’s so good. I enjoyed preparing for him because he’s such a good player. He can score in the low post. He’s a tremendous passer, a very good offensive rebounder. He was very good. And then, I didn’t know much about (Jayson) Granger until he rejoined the national team, but man, he is a fantastic player, and (Bruno) Fitipaldo is as good of a shooter as you can hope to have on a team. Like Reggie (Hearn) said, this was a hard-fought win, and we are thankful.

What’s the outlook on the Dominican Republic tomorrow?
I have such a respect for the Dominican Republic because I think they are the hardest playing team that I’ve seen in FIBA basketball. Each and every guy is a tremendous competitor. They have great continuity and a brotherhood that, if you’re not ready for it, they are going to take it right at you. We are going to have to be more ready than we were tonight to start the game.

Reggie Hearn (Reno Bighorns)
What was your mindset heading into the fourth quarter tied at 50?

I was thinking, man, we haven’t really brought it yet. We knew Uruguay was going to come out and play hard on their home court. But, I did expect us to have a little bit of a lead going into the fourth, so to go into it tied up, we talked in the huddle - it is time to break away. It is time to really give everything we got to win this game and come back tomorrow to get the next one, but right then, it was time to take care of business.

You had a big fourth quarter. Were you starting to get into a rhythm?
Honestly, the last one I hit, I thought was going to be a little short. But, I guess with as many shots as I have taken, as C.J. Williams has taken - really any of our guys that are shooters - sometimes your stroke is natural. You get a chance to shoot and you just put the ball up. You hope more times than not that the ball goes in. It wasn’t just me. C.J. hit a big shot. We all did down the stretch, and then we locked down on defense.

How do you get yourself ready for the Dominican Republic?
We go back to the hotel. We get some food in us, and some rest. Possibly, we will get in the ice bath if we can do that, and kick our feet up. And, we’ll start getting mentally ready. Coach Van Gundy talks a lot about focusing on the next game. Success can sometimes be the biggest enemy of progress. We came here to get a gold medal. The Dominican Republic is tomorrow, and so we are all going to go back and focus on them. We enjoy the win, but it’s time to move on.

Darrun Hilliard (Detroit Pistons)
How exciting was it playing in that environment against the hosts, Uruguay?
It was amazing. It probably wasn’t anything that any of us are used to, even in the difficult environments that we had in college and what we’ve seen in the NBA or wherever we were - the G League or overseas. That was probably the best you’re going to see. So, to play in that type of environment against a great team, there’s probably only a handful of things sweeter than that.

What was the difference there in the fourth quarter?
We were right where we wanted to be. We knew that we weren’t going to blow them out. We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task. Going into the fourth it was 50-50, or zero-to-zero basically. So, if we won that fourth, we would win the game.

What were you thinking shooting those free throws down the stretch?
These better go in. They better go in. It was a tough shooting night, but you just have to step up and knock them down when the pressure is on.

C.J. Williams (Texas Legends)
How exciting was it playing in that environment against the hosts, Uruguay?
That game actually fits my style - the physicality, the pure adrenaline and pure emotion. That’s how I like to play every game. That fit my style, so I had fun playing it.

What was the difference there in the fourth quarter?
Our defense. That’s what we pride ourselves on. When we come together, coach always talks about defense. That’s what is going to win us games. Shots may fall and shots may not fall, but as long as we get stops, we will always be in the game and we will always have a chance to win.

You hit a couple big shots there close to the end. What were you thinking on those plays?
Take my shots. Coach says to take your best shots, so I just wanted to keep doing that, and keep being aggressive.

What are you expecting from the Dominican Republic tomorrow?
A dogfight. It’s going to be a game where whoever plays the hardest and the smartest at the same time, that’s who is going to win.

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