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Aug 28, 2017 5:00 PM edt
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Jul 29, 2017 3:00 PM edt ESPN3
USA 73 vs. JPN 66
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Aug 13, 2017 3:00 PM edt
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Aug 15, 2017 3:00 PM edt
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Xavier Munford

Additional Quotes: USA 90, U.S. Virgin Islands 62

  • Date:
    Sep 2, 2017

• Game Recap
• Box Score
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Jeff Van Gundy (USA head coach)
Opening statement:
I thought the Virgin Islands was a bit decimated by injuries. Our energy was a little low, but our bench played very well. It has been the greatest strength of our team. Xavier Munford here had a great, great night. I'm very happy for him.

Is it going to take some better energy in tomorrow's gold medal game?
Well, we better have more to give. Our energy is going to have to be at a much higher level to beat either Argentina or Mexico, because both are outstanding teams. We have a big challenge ahead of us. I like our team, though. We have a good team when we are playing hard on defense and passing the ball.

Which team - Mexico or Argentina - are you looking forward to playing tomorrow?
They are both really good. I think the players would agree. We just want to play. We're happy to be in the gold medal game. Whichever team wins tonight, it's going to be a huge challenge. We're just thankful to be there, and thankful to be in Cordoba.

How do you feel the team has played together so far?
We've just been together 17 days now. I'm really happy with the group. On the whole, they are good guys and they've worked hard. The three games in Uruguay, I thought we played well. I think tonight, like Xavier (Munford) said, we didn't have the energy that we normally have. We have to come back rejuvenated tomorrow and play a much better game.

How are you enjoying this experience?
I think all of our players and all of our coaches have taken great pride that we have been able to represent USA Basketball and our country in this tournament. The people of Uruguay were great to us when we were there. The competition was great. And then, coming to Argentina, the people here have been so very kind to us in our brief stay here. We've really enjoyed this tournament. For a lot of our younger players, this is really their first FIBA basketball experience, and they've had to get used to the differing rules. It's tested their mental toughness, and some of them have responded very well. 

Larry Drew (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
Was there an emphasis on coming out strong again tonight?
Games like those, where coach Van Gundy had been preaching to us since training camp from his experiences, the teams that lose are those that come out and take the game for granted. We were going into this game knowing no matter what, it's going to be a hard-fought game. The U.S. Virgin Islands, they had an upset in the previous round, so we wanted to make our presence felt from the beginning, so that was our focus.

Do you feel the offense is coming around?
It is. There is a funny dynamic, because, I think, our second unit has been doing a great job of coming in and bringing energy. Regardless of what the score is, whenever we come in, I'm a firm believer of offense from defense. One of the things I think we've been doing well as a whole is getting stops, getting rebounds and pushing the break, even when we are not scoring in the half court. But yeah, our half court offense is starting to come along better, as well.

Do you feel this team's defensive effort has frustrated other teams?
For sure. That's also just the style of play outside of America. It's a little bit more up-and-down, kind of run and gun. Not to say other team are not well coached, but I'm not sure they are as disciplined as we have been. We're definitely going to make teams pay for taking bad shots, for taking ill-advised shots and definitely try to beat them up on the glass, too.

What are you expecting from tomorrow's gold medal game?
It's going to be a dogfight. I think about Uruguay, times 10. That's what is in my mind as I prepare for it. You saw the way we started that game. I don't want to take any chances and come out and start the game the way we did versus Uruguay. It's going to have to be a full 40 minutes of our undivided attention on both offense and defense.

Xavier Munford (Greensboro Swarm)
Opening statement:
Just like coach said, we started out a little slow with our defensive energy. That's something we pride ourselves in since training camp. But, tomorrow, we know the task. and we're going to come ready to compete for a gold medal.

How are you enjoying this experience?

I'm just excited and humbled to even be a part of the selected group that came to training camp, so to get this far, it's a dream come true to come here and represent the country. As far as playing for coach Van Gundy, it's been great. He's been on my back throughout training camp and throughout this whole competition, but I know it is just to bring the best out of me. It's been a joy playing for him, with this group of guys and representing our country, as well.

Marshall Plumlee (New York Knicks)
What was the key in keeping the Virgin Islands off the glass tonight?
Anyone to have made it this far in the tournament, they have to be a hungry team, and that's what the Virgin Islands were. They challenged us, and there are definitely some areas they highlighted where we can be better as a team. We need to grow in those departments before we step up against competition like Argentina and Mexico. We're going to come together as a team, watch the footage, watch the upcoming and try to take another step forward to grow before this next game.

What did you try to focus on tonight?
I just focused on not pacing myself, because behind me I have Jameel Warney, who is a heck of a player. He gives me all the confidence in the world, becasue I know that if I get tired for a second, he's just going to come in and not give the other team any sort of break. So, playing with him, I feel like, has made me a better player and he's been a huge asset to this team.

How exciting is the thought of playing for a gold medal tomorrow?
It's the sole reason you play basketball. You dream of moments like this, to play for a championship or play for a gold medal. This one hits home for me in particular just because my love for my country. That's something that is shared in the locker room. The opportunity to wear USA on your chest, it's something that when you start playing basketball, that you never know if you'll be able to do. You watch the greats do it. But, here and now is our team. We want to take advantage of it and not leave anything on the table. We're playing with no regrets.

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