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2019 USA Men

Quotes: Australia 98, USA Men's National Team 94

  • Date:
    Aug 23, 2019

Gregg Popovich (USA and San Antonio Spurs head coach)
Opening statement:

I need to start by congratulating the Boomers. The Boomers were really great tonight. They did a great job. It’s really a testament to how long they’ve stuck together to get this accomplished tonight. So, we got to give them big credit. Both ends of the court, they were competitive. They executed really well, and they came up with the victory. So, that needs to be said. And, as I told you all after the last game, Patty (Mills) is a pain in the ass (joking).

On the fourth quarter:
Well, it’s not just the fourth quarter. They played well for the entire game. We looked discombobulated at times, made some poor decisions. They were the kinds of things you do in a basketball game. But some of it is expected, with a new group that’s trying to learn about each other and learn the system, so it’s not surprising. But, the Aussies give us a great lesson as far as where we want to be and how you have to play in this kind of a competition. So, we’ll get used to that and hopefully learn.

On Australia’s physicality:
I think every team is going to be physical. I think they are very physical consistently. They don’t do it in spurts. Like I said last time, it’s in the water here. Tough nuts.

Were you disappointed with the shots the team was getting in the fourth quarter?
We probably shot a bad shot in the first quarter, made a turnover in the second quarter. We made some shots down the stretch. Patty (Mills) made some shots. A lot of basketball games it comes down to making shots in the last two or three minutes. We had a couple of good shots that didn’t fall. Joe Harris had a great shot in the corner. Kemba had a great shot coming off one play. But they didn’t go in, and theirs did go in. So, you give them credit.

What does the loss mean?
The loss means that we need to play better, and it’s a measure of who you are. Nobody wins forever. This is a group of guys that has worked very hard, like I said, to get to know each other and to get to know a system. And whatever comes, we can handle. Our job is to try to get better every day, and we learned some things tonight. We are actually a better team now than at the start of the game, because of the knowledge that we gained. So, you move on.

You’ve seen Patty before. What was it like to watch him against you?
In a strange sort of way, I’m happy for him. He’s a wonderful human being, much better human being off the court than on the court. I mean that sincerely. He’s just a beautiful guy. Cares about people, he loves people. And so, when someone like that has success, you got to feel good about it.

On the USA’s defense:
Well that’s got to be our calling card. We scored 94, and that’s good enough. But, we didn’t hold them to where we needed to defensively, and to us its obvious that that’s what we have to be. We have to be a good defensive and rebounding team. We did that last game, but we didn’t do it today.

Is there a certain player you are leaning on?
This is not about one guy. This is about all of us. We lean on each other.

On Jock Landale:
He’s really developed, hasn’t he? Over the last few years. I don’t think he was looked at that much in the beginning. He came over for a while. He probably just wasn’t ready at the time. But he’s matured, not just physically, but understanding a role, knowing what his strengths and weaknesses are, and he’s turned into one heck of a fighter. No reason why he couldn’t play in the states.

Eleven assists on 30 made shots – what was the reason for that?
If I knew the answer to that, I would have told them during the second quarter, and we’d have more assists. That is one of those unanswerable questions. Some nights that happens.

On being in Melbourne:
We’ve had a great time. We need to thank Visit Victoria for the reception they put on the other night. It was great. It was a lot of fun. And, of course, basketball Australia for inviting us here. We’re thankful for that. And Crown Towers has been a great place to stay. For all those reasons, we’re thankful. We’re grateful. You got a great city.

How much improvement can the team make in the next week or so before the World Cup?
Whatever we do gain, that would be how much we gain.

Any of the NBL players catch your eye?
Well, I was paying most of my attention to what my team was doing, and I think I need to continue to do that.

Could you see coming back to Australia before the next Olympics?
Well, that’s above my pay grade. I just go where they tell me to go.

Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings)
On the game:

I think for us as a group, this was a great test for us tonight. This was a veteran international team that plays well together. They run good sets. So, I think for us, this is just a lesson in how we can continue to improve. We have one more game before the World Cup gets started, so I think tonight was just a great example of the little details.

On Andrew Bogut:
He is just doing what he always does. Defensively, being an anchor for them. Offensively, finding guys. It’s pretty frustrating to watch. I used to be that guy on the cut getting the wide open shots or the layups. To see him getting those other guys their shots, it’s just a testament to how he’s continued to work, continued to take care of his body and the impact he has on the game. 

How does the team move forward?
Just watch tape and just become more comfortable with our system. I think when you look at international play, every team, they have been together for a long time, but they kind of have their calling card on what they fall back into – their system, their sets. For us, we are still getting to that point. We have some comfortability with it, but just continue to get better at that through film, practice and, obviously, the next exhibition game. I think that will be huge for us.

On not having as much time together as other teams:
Obviously, it’s a little bit of a disadvantage, but at the end of the day, we are all basketball players. We’re all competitors. So, you throw the ball up and you say go out there and compete, and we can do that.

Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)
What will you do to help your teammates get through this process?

Watch film when we get the chance to, learn from it and move on. 

What are the keys to winning in an environment like that?
To keep our composure. That’s the main thing. It’s a road game for us, obviously. This is great.  It’s all about composure and executing down the stretch and getting stops.

Were you impressed with the Boomers and what you saw from them?
Yeah, I was, in the first game (also). Both games they played a good game: physical, tough, execute their stuff. Down the stretch, they made shots and made plays.

Do you expect them to be one of the teams to beat the World Cup?
I would assume so. I think every team out there has a chance. So, each night, we got to go out there and play to win. 

Have you found this whole experience coming to Australia fun?
It’s pretty cool. To be on a stage like that, to play in a game in front of that many people. 

Can you talk about your former teammate Matthew Dellavedova and how he played tonight and what it’s like to play with him?
It’s what Delly does. He’s a point guard. He’s a leader for them. He’s physical. His first task is pass the ball, and get shots and make sure everybody’s on the same page. That’s what you want out of the point guard like him.

Is the game more physical over here than you’re accustomed to?
Probably so. It’s not the style of basketball we’re used to playing in the NBA, so we have to adjust quickly to it. That’s just the way it is over here. So hopefully, we’ll play physical without fouling as much.

Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
Coach Pop said you are a better team after a loss like this, can you elaborate on that?
Sure. First off, let me give credit to the Australian team. They played a great game. For us, we can learn from this. That’s really all it is. At the end of the day, the game doesn’t count, so for us we can learn a lot of things to work on and fix.

Team USA doesn’t lose often … so what does this mean for this group?
To be honest, it doesn’t mean anything. Obviously, it hurts to lose, but I look at this and we look at this as more a learning experience as opposed to, ‘We just lost.’ That’s the mindset. If you think of this as a loss, you start to get carried away with all that. We have the film. We’re going to watch it on the plane, watch it when we’re getting ready for Canada. That’s the best thing. I mean, obviously, you want to win every game, but you learn a lot in losses too.

What adjustments do you need to make for Canada?
Yeah, we got some things to work on. Obviously Patty (Mills) got hot late, but I think we did a pretty good job. Obviously, he had 30, but I think we did a pretty good job. We just got to talk a little bit more and communicate. And, at the end of the day, that being said, we’ve been playing with each other for about two and a half weeks. We got to be able to figure each other out at a faster pace.

Were you impressed with what you saw from the Boomers?
Yeah, most definitely. Even when I watched them on film. They’re not the same team I watched when they played against Canada the first time. I think it’s just them all settling in, and they’ve been running this stuff for years. So, for us, it’s about finding ways to kind of mess up their chemistry. That’s all it is. They’ve been doing this since I was a teenager, since they were teenagers, so for us it’s just continue to build. And, they ran their stuff to perfection. 

Your thoughts on how well Joe Ingles played tonight?
I’m super proud of Joe. At the end of the day, you don’t want to lose, but this is an exhibition game, and you want to win, but it’s an exhibition game. And obviously, you want to see him do real well. You want to build. He’s a great guy and a great teammate, and I have a lot of love for him, but when we play against each other, I don’t want to see that. 

How do you try to find the chemistry when you have played with each other for such a brief time?
I think we have no choice. We have to find a way to be exceptional at that in a certain amount of time, and that’s what makes us and the past teams really good – how they were able to do that. We just have to find that. It’s tough to do that in a short amount of time, but we got to find a way. That’s the only thing. We can’t make that excuse because no one cares, and we have to be ready. 

Did you feel a growth in the chemistry today?
Yeah for sure. Just the fact that they went on that run, and we came back at the end of the game and scored. At the end of the day, when you have 55,000 going crazy, it tests your character. Obviously, 55,000 are cheering against you, and it tests what you’re all about.  We responded. We didn’t execute all the way, but we responded. It’s a step forward. It’s not a step back. It’s just one moment where you take that step forward, look to the side and say, ‘That’s what we need to work on.' 

Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics)
On getting back on the court:
It felt good, really good. The training staff decided to play me only 10 minutes in this game. For those 10 minutes, I thought I got out there and I did pretty well. It just felt good to be out there with those guys.

I think today was just the first day and last day of it. I think from here on out, I will be cleared to play. That’s kind of the way we were going, and they just wanted to see what it was like today. Everything feels well, so I think they are going to take the reins off.

What is the focus for this team from here on out?
Just continue to build together. We’ve only been playing together for a little while, and this was a good lesson for us. This was good. We are going into this tournament, and everybody wants us to lose – everybody. We are always the underdogs in a sense. Everybody is hunting us, and not everybody believes in us. So, we got to come out and prove everybody wrong. We just got to stay together.

Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics)
As one of the leaders on the team, how do you take this experience and learn from it?
That’s really all you can do. You take it. You learn from it. All the credit in the world to those guys. They played extremely well. That’s what we expected. We expected those guys to come out and give everything they got. That’s what they did. Much respect to them. What we’re going to do is watch film and continue to get better. That’s all we can do.

How do you kind of conceptualize the team losing when USA Basketball doesn’t lose very often?
They say Team USA doesn’t lose. I get it. They haven’t lost in a very long time, which I understand, but it happens. Teams lose. Like I said, we’re going to take this loss and build from it. That’s all we can do. That’s all we can do is continue to try our best to get better. The real thing doesn’t start until China. We got one more game. We head to Sydney and focus on Canada. Then from that point out, the real thing starts. That’s all we’re worried about. Just continue to get better, to continue to learn each other. These guys have been playing with each other for a very long time. Us? We’re just kind of beginning. Like I said, a lot of credit to those guys. You can’t take away anything that they did. They played extremely well.

How do you build that chemistry and are you seeing progress?
We are. We’re coming together. I think times like this are what’s going to help us come together even more. Honestly, you hate to lose, but probably it was good for us. It humbled us very much … got to continue to grow. 

What adjustments do you need to make for the Canada game?
We got to be better defensively. We got to be better with our starts to the game. We have to be more consistent. We have stretches where we’re super tough on defense and rebounding, and then we have stretches where we’re not doing it as much as we know we can. I think consistency on the defensive end is something we need to improve on.

What impressed you the most about the Boomers the last couple of days?
They play really hard. They play really well. Like I said, they’ve played with each other for a long time. They just know each other. They do a great job getting Patty (Mills) open. Joe (Ingles), of course, they do a good job of getting him open as well. Guys just play their roles, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. 

Do you think a loss sometimes can make you look more critically and help fast track your growth?
I think so. Like I said, nobody likes to lose, obviously. There are many lessons we can learn from losing. I think we’ve learned many lessons tonight. There are so many things that we can do to continue to get better. We will. We’ll fix it. We have great guys, high-character guys who work extremely hard, and so we want to do well, and we will, I think.


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