Additional Quotes: USA AmeriCup Team 78, Puerto Rico 54 (semifinals)
Dawn Staley (South Carolina), USA head coach
On tonight’s game:
Puerto Rico did a great job of speeding us up. They scrapped. They put themselves in a position of having a game plan that put them in the best position to win, which was scrambling around, getting long rebounds, shoot as many 3s as they can.
I thought that after the first quarter of the game we settled down, made some adjustments and started rebounding the ball a little bit better defensively. We played with a lot more pace than we had been. But you have to credit Puerto Rico for speeding us up and making us play faster than we wanted to play. Instead of slowing down and taking what the defense gave us, we were forcing it a little bit.
On the play of Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles:
Once the game settled down, they were able to make the best plays out there on the floor. Both Tina and Syl, they know they have a height advantage, and they know they have an experience advantage. Once we put the ball in their hands, they delivered it for us tonight. They did what veterans do and that is lead our basketball team.
On playing Canada in the gold medal game:
Canada’s going to be hard-nosed. They’re a team that probably matches up a little bit better than the rest of the team’s we’ve faced. It’s going to be a tough match-up for us. I think the team that comes out with the gold medal will be the team that imposes their will. I like our chances. I like the fact that we haven’t played our best basketball, and I think this team wants to play its best basketball on a gold medal Sunday.
Tina Charles (New York Liberty)
How tough is it to play the home team with such a vocal crowd?
It’s always hard. Usually the home team’s sixth man is their fans, and their fans brought it tonight for them, giving them motivation, how loud it was, the energy they had in there. Puerto Rico gave us their best shot. We were resilient, got rebounds, limited their 3s, which they thrive off of. We stuck to the game plan, so it was really great.
Canada seems to match-up with you better than any other team you’ve faced so far. What will tomorrow’s game be like?
Through my experience playing against Canada, I know they’re going to use the entire shot clock. We’re going to have to work on defense. They’re extremely patient. They are going to always make sure they get the right shot. They’re a very disciplined team, so we’re going to have to bear down and see how mature we are throughout the last game. I don’t think we’ve reflected who we are through the dynamic of this group, so we have one more chance to do that.
What advice do you have for some of the younger players who haven’t been in this position at this level yet?
Just to be focused, to be locked in, not to take any team lightly. We have USA on our chests. We’re a big target and everyone’s going to give us their best shot. So, we all definitely have to take it as a championship game with a gold medal on the line.
Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx)
On tonight’s game:
It was very hard. They came out with a lot of energy, a lot of intensity. Of course, that’s something we expected because they were home. They fought the whole game, and we made some adjustments throughout the game, which was great. We did lot of great things. Of course, we have a lot of things we need to clean up to get ready for this gold medal round.
How different was it to play in front of a loud crowd?
It was amazing. They cheered, most of them were cheering for their home team, but you caught some of them cheering for us, which was great. I was loving the atmosphere, and it feels good to go out there and compete when it’s hard. It makes the win more satisfying.
What do you need to do to prepare for Canada?
Regroup, make sure we’re taking care of our bodies and refocus. Canada is going to give us their best shot tomorrow, so we have to make sure we come out and clean up some of the things we didn’t do so well today and continue to do the things that we did great today.
Katie Lou Samuelson (Chicago Sky)
How surprised were you by the level of play from Puerto Rico?
We expected them to come out firing, come out with a lot of energy. They played really scrappy, really aggressive, so they came out really hard and we just had to compete with that and battle back and forth from the beginning.
What’s your mindset coming off the bench to provide a spark for the team?
Just to contribute in any way that I can. I know that I’m a shooter, and I can shoot the ball well. So, when I come in and I have open shots, I know people count on me to knock them in.
How much difference did it make to have a loud crowd for tonight’s game?
It’s awesome. The crowd was cheering for them, but just that atmosphere, it adds a little fire even for us. We want to try to silent the crowd a little bit. But, it’s a lot of fun when a crowd comes out like this.
On playing for gold tomorrow:
I’m super excited. We’re all really ready to go. We get a chance to play Canada, and I think we’re going to be really focused. We’ll get a good night’s rest and get going tomorrow.