Additional Quotes: USA 111, Panama 80
Jeff Van Gundy, USA head coach
Well, we just want to play big basketball to the standard of USA basketball, what they have set. So, qualified or not, we just want to play well, and I thought Panama played outstanding in the first half. They really shot it well. Our defense might have been a bit subpar, and then our depth I thought really showed through in the second half. Cam had a big, big night. He’s an outstanding player who has had a drastic improvement from November until now.
On how he has been able to put a cohesive and consistent product on the court:
I think for us, Sean Ford does a tremendous job of selecting the right type of players, because you are with guys a very short amount of time. You have to be of the right skill and the right character. I think guys have to want to play for each other. There’s a lot of work that goes into this 12 day window. They could have been taking it off on the All-Star break. I’m proud we put a lot of effort. It didn’t show in the first half with our defense. Trying to get better there. Rebounding the ball, which I thought we really were active on the offensive end of the floor. Finally, sharing the ball on offense. And I think our guys did a great, great job. I’m real proud of them. I love dealing with the G League players, because they’re very, very talented. And the guys we’ve had, because Sean’s (Ford) picked the right guys, they’re knocking on the door either to get back into the league or to get their opportunity. And the guy next to me (Cameron Reynolds) is going to find his way there if he keeps improving and working.
On Cameron Reynolds’s improvement from the November 2018 games to tonight:
The improvement he’s made since November, I liked him in the first seven or eight G League games, but he wasn’t ready for that challenge. That’s a huge challenge. But to see how far he’s come from December 1, when we beat Uruguay to now, you can tell he’s put a lot into it. He’s improved dramatically. If people are watching in the G League and watching tonight, they’re seeing a guy who’s made a major jump, and he’s got other jumps to make. I’m really proud of him, though, and he should be really proud of himself.
On the records set tonight:
Travis (Trice) is an outstanding point guard, a terrific shooter. But tonight, I thought he really did a fine job of finding people, particularly in transition and in the pick-and-roll game. And as far as numbers, I told these guys, you don’t really worry about numbers in FIBA, because you can score six points in a FIBA game and play outstanding. Cam (Reynolds) had an incredible night, and the only mistake he made from an offensive standpoint was the one he passed up where he traveled. He should have let that fly. When you’re a great shooter, you’ve got to figure out how to get open. Tonight, he found his spots, and guys did a great job in finding him.
The plan is, our advantage is, because other teams have continuity advantages, experience advantages, age advantages and usually strength advantages, our advantage is two-fold: speed and depth. Because of our depth, we only have 11 this window, so we’ll play all 11, and all 11 will contribute. So, usually that ends up where your minutes aren’t as great, your possessions aren’t as long, the game’s not as long, so the numbers are down. But, you don’t come here in these FIBA games to … (Cam Reynolds) should be proud of the way he played, but it’s not because he scored x-number of points. It’s because, I look at it as he has transformed from late November/early December to now, the jump he’s made for his career is off the charts. I’m so happy for him, and I’m proud of him.
On whether the team is prepared to play the group leader Argentina Monday night:
You know what’s great? We’ll find out on Monday. That’s the best part. We don’t have to talk about it, we can just do it. But, they crushed us down there (in Argentina) with the 3-point shot, with their physicality, so it’ll be a good opportunity to see how we can respond.
Xavier Mumford (Wisconsin Herd)
On what it is like to play for USA Basketball:
It’s always a great experience. I feel honored to be able to go out and represent my country. Any chance I can get. Any window I can play in. It’s an honor to represent USA.
On how the rigor of the G League schedule has helped him prepare for USA Basketball:
In the G League, every night you’re going against great talented guys, but the difference between the G League and FIBA is these guys, like Panama, they have probably been playing together for years, like since they have been growing up.
On how it feels to get the win:
W always feels great, man. For sure.
Cameron Reynolds (Stockton Kings)
On the importance of playing hard even though the team has clinched a qualifying spot:
We had to bring the intensity tonight. We had been increasing it all week. I thought in the second half we kind of turned it up a little bit. Like he said, that first half was kind of subpar. We let them get wide open shots, but I think that we changed the tone of the game and we fought for the rest of the game.
On what he learned on the trip to South America in World Cup Qualifying window five. Did that help prepare you – playing against home teams – to know that you could fight through the first half and come back the way you did?
No question, because my first window, going down to Argentina and Uruguay, I didn’t feel like I was ready, and coach told me that it was going to be a different type of environment, and it was a total shock to me. So, I think the improvement and learning the professional game really helped me for this tonight.
Playing in the G League this season out of college and the rigor of that, how did that prepare you for this experience?
It definitely prepared me for the experience for the professional game, but it doesn’t prepare you for the physicalness of the FIBA game. You go in there, you’re getting fouled, you’re getting hit. The G League will call that foul, but you have to play through it. So, it kind of makes you grow up and mature in a sense, especially this being my first year. So, you have to really be mature, know how to handle it and how to be strong mentally when you play out here.
On his record-setting night:
Really, I was just open. My teammates, we did a really good job of finding each other, ball movement. We had 27 assists as a team, that’s really unheard of as a team just coming together. So, they did a really good job of finding me, and it was my job to just knock them down, take the right shots, not to take any bad ones. So, I felt like the shots that I was getting were the right ones, and I took them.
How important is it to win Monday night?
It’s super-important, because that’s the standard that Sean Ford and coach expects for us, to set the tone and win every single game, be the physical force in FIBA. So, it’s really important to us to win. Even though we’ve already qualified, we have to take the mind-set that we haven’t qualified. Plus, we owe them. We went down there and lost by a lot, so we have to bring the same mentality we brought in the second half all the way through to the last game.
Travis Trice (Austin Spurs)
On how G League experience has helped him prepare for USA basketball:
It’s helped a lot. The G League has got a whole lot better, added more talent, more teams and better players coming back. So, it has definitely helped prepare me for this.
On how he feels the team played tonight:
We did a good job. Early on, defensively, we had a couple breakdowns, but we bounced back in the second half.
On how much it means to him to play for USA Basketball:
It means a lot. Not just for our team, but for me personally. A lot of guys on our team never thought we would have a chance to represent our country and play for Team USA. So, any time we get to do it we relish it.