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Frank Mason III

Additional Quotes: USA 78, Panama 48

  • Date:
    Sep 18, 2018

Game Story
Box Score
• Photo Gallery

Jeff Van Gundy (USA head coach)

Opening statement:

(Henry Ellenson) did a great job on the boards. He had the toughest assignment against Javier Carter, who is an outstanding player. I thought he did very well at that end of the court rebounding and then offensively, as Henry said, I thought we played very unselfishly. We made a couple three’s there to give us a nice cushion going into the fourth quarter.


What was the reason for the roster overhaul from the last window to this window?

We’ve had a different team basically every window, so it’s not any different than the previous windows. We’ve had some guys who have played multiple times, but for the most part, due to availability and injuries, we’ve now had over 40-something guys play for us in World Cup Qualifying. We’ve had a lot of roster changeover. It’s one of the things that had made it so challenging for us because we do not have the continuity like a team like Panama does.


What do you think of this World Cup Qualifying format?

I think in some ways it is good, but I think some of the best teams in the world are not going to qualify for the World Cup. I find that a bit frustrating. But, for the teams that have struggled in the past, I think they are getting better because they have to form their teams more often and play more games with more practices, so I think it’s raised the levels of those teams. It is a challenge to try to put together teams in a lot of these countries because of player availability, so I could see why some people would not like the format. I could also see why other countries really embrace it.


You spoke highly of Javier Carter, but did you identify any other players to stop?

As I mentioned, Henry’s matchup was tough with Carter. We put a lot of effort into that, and I thought he did an outstanding job. I think Trevor Gaskins is somebody we gameplanned for extensively. We’ve seen how good he is in pick-and-roll situations. He’s a very talented scorer. Our defense tonight was good. Like any great player, you try to make it hard on them and sometimes they just miss some shots they could also make.


Was there a reason for substituting so frequently?

It was hot in there. (laughs) I think our greatest strength is our depth. Again, we’ve pretty much done this throughout. We play 10 or 11 guys, anywhere from 10 or 11 minutes up to the low 20’s. We try to take advantage of our depth. Tonight, the crowd was good, but it was warm in there.


What did you say at halftime to correct the fouls and turnovers from your team?

I thought the turnovers in the first half were problematic. I think we had five straight in the second quarter. And, Panama is really good at getting to the free throw line, but we only put them there 10 total times, so we are very happy with that.


What did you like about Panama coming into this game?

Well, they are talented and they are tough. They played a terrific game on Friday. They could’ve easily won on the road at Puerto Rico. I thought they were outstanding the entire game, and we know how good Puerto Rico is because we have played them twice and both of those games could’ve gone either way. Like I said, Javier Carter and Gaskins – we have great respect for Tony Bishop, his effort and being a terrific perimeter rebounder, and Ogilvy is a hard-playing guy. The thing I love about Panama, and it’s like most of the teams down in this region – Dominican – they play hard, physical and tough. I have great respect for teams like that.


Henry Ellenson (Detroit Pistons)

Opening statement:

It was a good game for us. We played hard as soon as the ball went up in the air from the jump. I thought guys were unselfish. I thought we listened to the game plan well and really jumped out of the gates to start to the game, and did it again to start the second half to go on a nice little run. The way we played together unselfishly was really good tonight.


What did you think of the team’s defensive effort tonight holding Panama to 48 points?

The team’s defensive effort was great. I think we were in the right positions to help each other all night. I don’t think there was any individual defense. It seemed like whether it was trapping (Javier) Carter or stopping (Trevor) Gaskins on the drive or with open looks, I thought we were out there to cover one another’s backs. That helps a lot, I think, being that connected and having that togetherness. It helps you get rebounds and get out in transition. That was huge for us.


How important was the strong start with the atmosphere being what it was tonight?

It was huge, because from the gate, if you give them some momentum and they start scoring points, it can be a long night. I think we did a good job of coming out early, getting a run and holding that lead the whole way. In the second half, it was the same thing. We made a jump, so I’m really proud of the way we played.


How important was the balanced scoring tonight?

We were unselfish passing the ball, getting out and running. Nobody was taking crazy shots or forcing anything. Collectively, this whole week and against Uruguay, we came to win. That’s the most important part. We don’t really look at our own stats. Guys were just unselfish.


What does this experience representing USA Basketball mean to you?

Now this has been my second stint with USA – I played with the U17 World Cup Team before and now in the World Cup Qualifiers – it’s just an honor to be able to go to another country and wear this jersey. It’s just something really special and I love doing it. I was so excited to get the invite. This was a blast and a hell of an experience.


Reggie Hearn (Grand Rapids Drive)

Were you anxious to get out there to play after sitting on Friday versus Uruguay?

Yes, definitely. You only get two chances per window, so to have to sit out the first one, wasn’t my favorite, but, you don’t want to force things after I tweaked my ankle a little bit. This is the type of the FIBA atmosphere that I like to play in, so I was happy to contribute.


What did you think of the team’s defensive effort tonight holding Panama to 48 points?

(Trevor) Gaskins is their big playmaker. Our plan was to bottle him up and make him get rid of the ball, and I think that’s what we did. I think he had seven points, or something like that. He wasn’t really able to make plays like we saw him do on tape, so once we stifled him, that stifled a lot of their offensive flow.


How’s it feel to take two wins in this window?

It feels great. It moves us that much closer to qualifying. It moves us that much closer to the U.S. getting to the World Cup and getting the whole thing.


Ben Moore (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)

What did you think of the team’s defensive effort tonight holding Panama to 48 points?

The biggest thing was coach’s game plan coming in. We threw Panama off with different sets and guarding different guys. I think coach gave us a great game plan, and we went out there and executed it. We played really hard on defense and that was our biggest emphasis of the game.


How important was the balanced scoring tonight?

It speaks volumes to how good everyone is individually, and then when we come together as a team, we’re even better. It was a great experience, and I’m really grateful for it.


What does this experience representing USA Basketball mean to you?

To be honest, it’s been a dream of mine since I was very little. It’s been a dream of a lot of these other guys too. I can’t even put it into words or describe how excited I was to play, and how happy I am to be have played for these coaches and with these players.

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