Quotes: USA Men's AmeriCup Qualifying Team 83, Puerto Rico 60
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Mike Fratello, USA Head Coach
General comment on the game:
Our team effort in the first half sensational. It was about as good of a first half as you can play. We defended and we shot the ball well.
Jalen (Jones) is an inspiration to us. Jalen is a guy who when he is on top and talking, he’s a glue, he brings our team together. And then when he steps up and makes a big shot at the right time, or a couple free throws when we need it, they're the keys to us being able to hang on.
We have great respect for Puerto Rico, we knew at halftime, and all the players said it, not just me, the players said ‘they’ll come after us’ because they know that’s how Puerto Rico plays. But we had some big buckets along the way, some second shots, we made our free throws when we had to, and this guy (Jalen Jones) was the glue for our defense. So I’m very happy for these young men, very happy for us after a lot of hard work.
How many sessions of practice did you have?
We did not practice until we all met up in Miami. Everybody flew in from wherever they were when they played their last game with their respective teams and flew out the next morning and flew into Miami. They came in on Friday night, so Friday we met each other, we watched a little film together, we walked through some stuff together, and then we practiced Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to get ready for this.
You shot 9-of-13 in the first quarter from the 3-point line which made a big difference:
They tell me all the time that they shoot them like that all the time (laughing). It was one of those instances right J (Jalen Jones) where the team felt it, you guys felt it, talk a little about the spacing and ball movement that led to all that.
What was the key to stopping Puerto Rico after they closed to within 10 points?
Well in fairness to Puerto Rico they are a terrific team. I mean they really showed well in the competition (FIBA World Cup) last year. I don’t know many teams that could have done much better in the first half against our guys who were not only making big shots time after time, then our defense was very good, so they just didn’t get a chance to make their run in the first half. But when they came out in the second half everything picked up for them. Their defensive pressure picked up, they started to make some shots - I think they were 1-for-14 in the first half from the 3-point line - so it was little bit better in the second half and then all of sudden you’re back in the game. From our side, they had a hold on our guys, they had to grab hold of it, we had to make a big basket, we had to make free throws, we had to get a stop, wehad to get a rebound, and we got those when we needed them.
Jalen Jones (Capital City Go-Go/Texas A&M).
General comments on the game:
First I want to say thank you Puerto Rico for having us. We’ve been putting in so much work like coach said, practice after practice, a lot of film sessions and we knew this wasn’t going to be an easy game. The coaches did a great job of preparing us for this, we knew it was going to be a battle, knew it was going to be a fight, I’m just glad we were able to win. Puerto Rico came out with a great competitive spirit and it was a great game.
You shot 9-of-13 in the first quarter from the 3-point line which made a big difference (responding to coach Fratello asking Jalen to speak about it):
First of all, our guards did a great job of penetrating and kicking it, and we were down and ready to get shots and they happened to fall for us early in the first quarter. We did a great job in practice of practicing what we wanted to do it in the game and it showed today. We were shot ready and they happened to fall in for us early.
Eric Mika (Westchester Knicks/Brigham Young)
General comments on the game:
I think we were hyped to play, we were excited to finally get an opponent that wasn’t us. We moved the ball, we shared the ball and we were knocking down shots like none other so we built our self a nice little lead. We knew they were going to come out in the second half and be super aggressive and that they were going to start making their shots but I think we did a great job and it showed a lot of who were are as a team, having come together so shortly (ago), like a week ago or whatever it was. But we hung in there and kept our composure, we trusted each other, we trusted what we worked on and we kept them out. It got down to 10, the crowd was going crazy and it was a fun atmosphere but you know we didn’t doubt for a single moment and that was a pretty cool feeling.
How much fun was a game like this?
It was fun. Honestly, it was more fun when they started climbing back in there because the crowd was into it, it was even more physical and just everything out there was a little bit faster, a little bit harder, they weren’t calling a whole lot, and it was a lot fun. The crowd was awesome, they really brought it tonight.