Quotes: USA Men's National Team 84, Canada 68
Gregg Popovich (USA and San Antonio Spurs head coach)
The USA winning after a loss:
They learned that in this competition, you can’t take nights off. It’s one and done. So, like I say, we are learning a lot. This group has never been together before and had a lot to learn. We still have a lot to learn, but game by game, practice by practice trying to figure it out. And, tonight was another good lesson to realize what the mindset has to be going into these games – how physical they are, how you have to sustain the energy for forty minutes. They are doing a great job of just paying attention, not talking to the referees and worried about a bad call or anything like that. It’s coming along, but as I said, there is a lot of improvement we can make, and that’s a good thing. I think we got good potential there to continue to execute better than we are now. So, we competed. That wasn’t a problem, but still execution takes time and guys have to get used to each other. You have to practice, which is kind of difficult as you move forward in this competition. So, the games in a way are practices also, in the sense that you have to try to be as good at what you are trying to get accomplished as possible.
How encouraged are you by Myles Turner’s play?
He’s been really consistent for us under the bucket, defensively, rebounding-wise. He’s understands his role really well, and he fits with everybody else. So, he’s done a good job.
On Jaylen Brown:
Jaylen, he’s just a hard-nose player. He understands what has to be done. He doesn’t care about anything, except playing with his teammates, winning, playing aggressively all the time, and he’s consistent in that regard. He does it all the time. He’s confident in his shot. He’s tough underneath. So, he’s been one of our more consistent players, along with Myles.
What impact has Donovan Mitchell had?
He’s a real congenial, easy to like young player. Again, he’s selfless. He wants to do the right thing. He probably, in some situations, tries to do more than he needs to, actually, because he feels a responsibility to do it. But, all these guys get along well. Off the court, they enjoy each other, and that’s what we try to do in putting the team together, have guys that we thought would be good teammates. And, fortunately, that’s turned out to be the case.
Did you know Brook Lopez had so many fans in Sydney?
What the hell was that all about? Don’t understand. So, we screwed with it for a while. We were trying to keep our focus, because we don’t want to make anything silly. But, it got so ridiculous, that we finally, we succumbed to the crowd.
It seemed the team ran a lot more today. Is that part of the identity you want?
Well, we created some turnovers, and we had a little bit better pace off of rebounds, and it’s the way we have to play. We’ve got to have a good pace. If we walk it up, we are not taking advantage of our athleticism.
On the second quarter defense:
I think we were a little fortunate. They had nine points in the first quarter. We were working hard, but they missed some easy shots. And, that’s a hell of a team. Nick (Nurse) does a fantastic job. They execute the hell out of things. They are moving constantly, and they are physical. They’ve known each other for a little bit longer, and they look like it. That’s a heck of team. They are going to do a fine job in this tournament, and it would have been a different story I think, initially, had they made three or four of those shots. So, you take what comes. But I was really happy with our energy and our aggressiveness.
Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)
On the USA’s defense:
I think today was a good start in the right direction. I think that is where we are going to hang our hat, the defensive intensity and pressure. So, it was good to see it tonight.
On the USA responding to a loss with a win:
I wouldn’t say impressed would be the word. But, it’s a journey. It’s a process. There is a lot of room to improve I think for this team, especially offensively. Defensively, we came out with the right mindset, and that’s half the battle, more than half the battle, having the right mindset. Now, we got to execute. Now, we got to take care of the ball. We got to rebound and play unselfishly, and we’ll be pretty good.
On being aggressive tonight:
I’m just trying to find spots, you know. A lot of those guys are drawing a lot of attention – Kemba, Donovan, J.T. (Tatum). (I’m) just trying to be aggressive and find spots, and making the other team have to space the floor and making the right plays. That’s it.
On Myles Turner:
Myles is going to be huge for us. Defensively, being our anchor. Offensively, getting those extra put-backs, those extra rebounds. His athleticism is going to make a huge difference in this tournament. We are going to need him. We are going to lean on him a lot. We’ve got to help him out by helping him get those rebounds and finding him for some easy ones, so he can get going, but he is going to be big for this tournament.
How far is this team from hitting its peak?
I think we are nowhere near. I think we are just scratching the surface. That’s just me saying what I’m saying. Obviously, I think we have a lot of room to improve. I’m biased of course. But, we still come out and play. We have some good talent. We just have to continue to work together until it falls in place like seamlessly. It’s a little bit rugged. It’s not fluid yet, but we will get there.
Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks)
How are you going to act now that you are Prime Minister of Australia (joking)?
I guess that’s a big responsibility. I’m hope I’m up for the challenge, but it seems the people have spoken.
Do you have any idea why the crowd loved you so much?
I don’t, honestly. I was hoping that they’d keep Pop happy. Obviously, he was trying to fight it a little bit, but he finally acquiesced there at the end.
Is Australia your second favorite country now?
It’s there. That love, it was unreal. I’m going to have to text Bogs (Andrew Bogut), ask him what the professional league is like out here, maybe come out here and team up with him.
How much have you enjoyed your time in Australia?
It’s really been incredible. I think I can speak for the whole team – it’s been an amazing experience. The Australians have been so welcoming. Everyone’s been so welcoming. We had a great time competing on the court and just enjoying our time here off the court.
Have you recognized what’s happening here for Australian basketball while you are here?
Yeah. It’s so huge, and it’s so important to keep that momentum going. That’s the one thing we were talking about in the locker room after this game. We were just like, ‘Wow, you know. Basketball has got a chance to be a really big thing here. It’s grown a lot in the last decade or so. You’ve had a lot of great, talented players. I think it is time for the NBA to come out, play games here, preseason, regular season, whatever it is, and keep building and growing the game out here. It’s something special.
How has the team grown during its time here?
It’s been great. We have a great team of guys, very unselfish group. We all have the same goal in mind. A lot of young guys, so we have a lot of guys who are learning on the fly. We don’t have a problem being a team. Our guys have come together really quick. And, this Australia trip has been a great learning experience for us. Going game by game, the wins and the loss, we learned a lot from each, and they were important. They were important in our experience as we go into the World Cup.
What is one thing the team needs to work on before the World Cup?
We just need to keep building, each and every game. Pop said, I think the best thing that could have happened to us was that second Australia game. There again, there is a lot to learn from that, a lot to take away from that. And, we can’t take a night off against any opponent. That’s a talented Australia team. They came in and kind of took care of business. So, we definitely learned from that. I think we learned, and the most important thing, like you asked, is we need to come in from the get ready to go, for a full forty minutes. Whoever is in, which ever five is on the floor, you have to be active, ready to go, aggressive both offensively and defensively.
Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
On the game:
I think our overall activity was the biggest thing, just continuing to find ways to defend. We held them to a nine point quarter. I think that is one thing that really set the tone from the start of the game.
Did the team get the preparation it needed during the exhibition games?
I think so. Obviously, you want to win them all, but I think we learned so much. That’s huge. We are continuing to build and build.
Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics)
On the intensity of the game and in particular your defensive pressure?
That’s what we had to do. That was our main focus coming into tonight’s game. We wanted to be intense, and we wanted to be serious – try our best just to get into the basketball and press as much as possible. I thought we did a great job tonight.
Do you feel like you’re finally ready for this thing to start?
We’re getting better as the days go on. We still have some work to do to continue to get better. I think we’re taking the right steps, the right direction.
How impressed are you with the way the team came back tonight after the loss to Australia?
Very impressed. A lot of young guys, new team. For us to respond the way we did, that was big time. It’s all about the bounce back for the most part. Now, we can hopefully understand the way we need to play to win games. We’re going to be locked in, keep watching film and just continue to get better. That’s all we can do.
Is there part of you that thinks the loss to Australia was sort of good for you guys?
No question. It was very humbling. I think it just gave us a whole new perspective. Like I said, I thought against Australia we kind of let up, and we didn’t do the things that we did in the first game against Australia in the second game. Wake up call for us. Great wake up call. Hopefully, we can continue to grow. That’s the main goal for us, to continue to grow as a team, and tonight was great.
How much does working with this coaching staff help you grow as a player?
It helps a lot. It’s really cool to be around those guys. Great coaches, so much knowledge. All the rest of the guys as well, just an opportunity to learn and just pick their brains a lot. It’s definitely very exciting to be around those guys every day.
Are you feeling ok after the nasty fall you took in the third quarter?
Yeah, I’m ok. It’s a part of the game. I’ll be alright. At this point, we’re all playing. We’re all going to be banged up at some point. I’m good. No problem at all.