Nike Hoop Summit Quotes: USA 93, World Team 87
USA Head Coach Scott Fitch (Fairport H.S., N.Y.)
Tonight, was a tough game. We knew going in that it was going to be tough. They were very prepared. They were strong. I thought they played very physical tonight and pushed us around a little bit. I didn’t think that they would beat us on the glass, and they did. So, I’m really proud of our team for hanging in there, because I thought we showed a lot of culture. I think the culture kind of won the game tonight. I felt like we could’ve divided, and we didn’t. I thought Cole (Anthony) took over in a couple stretches. And we’re very capable of – defensively subbed in a couple guys at the end – and finally got to Nico (Mannion) a little bit. I think he played a great game. I thought the World Team was very prepared, and I thought they played extremely hard and tough. Just proud of our team for sticking it out.
On Tyrese Maxey:
I love Tyrese. I think he was probably our best shooter through preliminary, he had a tough game tonight in that way. Once again, that could’ve been a game where a kid hangs his head, you know a kid that’s a high-level kid, and shots weren’t falling for him but instead of doing that he still gut it out and was giving great effort on defense. I love his personality. He’s got a good smile all the time. He’s a guy that I really, really, really enjoy coaching. You know, you walked away from the game really enjoying some of these guys for sure.
Cole Anthony (Oak Hill Academy, Va./New York, N.Y.)
I think we started off pretty slow. I mean, I had a killer time in the beginning, so I had a slow start. I think that’s what gave them their confidence for the rest of the game. I have to give a lot of credit to the World Team. They came ready to play. Obviously, we had a slow start, but I think that we just fought through it, and as the game went on, as a team we didn’t divide. We stayed together. I am proud of everyone on the team for that.
On Tyrese Maxey:
Yeah, I mean, I love Tyrese. That’s one of my best friends throughout high school basketball. As coach Fitch said, Tyrese has that big smile. His smile is contagious. It makes me want to smile, too. He’s a very capable player, and as coach said, he didn’t hang his head, and that’s what I love about him.
World Team Head Coach Roy Rana
On coaching the World Select Team:
I told the guys in the locker room that this is my ninth Hoop Summit– this has got to be my favorite group. The way they conducted themselves all week and the way they came together and played as a team with a really short preparation time, I thought they looked like a really cohesive unit. It’s a credit to both of these guys up here (Precious Achiuwa and Nico Mannion), because their leadership skills are equally impressive as their basketball games. Often when we do these things, it’s about players and how they bring people together and connect with people, and I thought both Nico and Precious were tremendous all week and also had tremendous performances tonight. It was a tough loss, but there are no losers in this event. It’s a great showcase for basketball and a great showcase for these kids. I’m proud of them.
On players coming to the United States to play:
There’s no question players come here to learn the game. The highest level of competition is in the U.S. system, whether that’s in the high school system or the grass roots system in the summer. It’s an attractive option for international players and will continue to be. While that’s happening, I think there’s a lot of other interesting things happening globally that are starting to surface for people to stay in their countries and develop that way. But, the U.S. is still the global leader in the youth development system.
Precious Achiuwa (Montverde Academy, Fla./Nigeria)
On representing Nigeria:
I was born in Nigeria and moved to the US. I feel like a lot of kids look at my accomplishments and how far I’ve come, and also believe they could get here one day. If you put in the work and believe in what you’re doing… It’s a great honor to have that patch on my jersey.
On professionals he models his game after:
I try to take bits and pieces of player’s games. I watch LeBron (James) and Giannis (Antetokounmpo) play a lot. I try to take bits and pieces from their games. I also watch Kevin Durant. I try to watch big wings who have the same size I do and who put the ball on the floor and attack.
On the Nike Hoop Summit:
Like Coach said earlier, it’s not about the fact that we lost, it’s about the fact that we showed our skill sets. (The Nike) Hoop Summit was a chance to show my skill set and potential to a lot of people.
Nico Mannion (Pinnacle H.S., Ariz./Italy)
On playing for Team Italy:
A big part of that decision was me being able to go to Italy last summer and play with the men’s team. You can’t do that here in the USA. To be able to go over to Italy and learn from those guys on and off the court was a big part of the decision for me.
We had a good group of guys. They made it easy, because everyone is so unselfish and understands how to play. It’s just everybody working together.
On representing Italy:
It’s really big. I’ve been back to Italy to play a couple of times, and I have a lot of support back there. To be able to represent my country across my chest is really big for me. There’s a lot of kids growing up over there that maybe see me and look up to me, and hopefully I’m being a good role model. That’s a big part of it, too.
On how his father has influenced his game:
He’s been the biggest influence in my life. He’s been there since day one. I grew up around the gym because he was playing, so that’s how I got involved with basketball. I fell in love with it from the beginning. He’s never really been the dad to make me work out or force me to do anything, but he’s always been there for me and been supportive.