Quotes: U.S. Men vs Spain
USA head coach Gregg Popovich
It was a wonderful game in the sense that we feel absolutely great about the victory, knowing full well there's a lot of work to be done. But we played a terrific basketball team with an amazing coach. Coach Scariolo was one of the finest in the world, and the way his team executes is just remarkable to me and very impressive. So, to play that team under his tutelage and go down by nine or 10, whatever it was, and stay in it and find a way to actually win is very satisfying. But I give them a great deal of credit for what they do and what they've done for many, many years. It's an unbelievable organization. My hat's off to them. So now, we have to go back to work and see if we can play as well against our opponent on Thursday.
When you start out as a team going 4-for-17 is the thought that you have good shooters, and eventually those shots are going to go down? Or do you kind of start to think that maybe you need to adjust what you're doing?
You have to be who you are. And the 3-point shot is important in basketball at all levels these days. It's not a secret. Limiting your opponent with the 3-point line and making sure you get enough is one of the big principles of the game these days, whether you like it or not.
You had a slower start today against Spain. You had a slower start against the Czech Republic. As you're moving on forward playing teams that are going to be playing even tougher, might that be a challenge for you?
Of course. The further you move in the tournament, the more difficult it gets. That's pretty obvious.
When Kevin Durant gets going like that early the third quarter, what is it like to just watch him try to go to work and almost take over a ballgame?
I'm not sure that it relaxes you. But I think we feel about him when he does that the way the Spanish team felt about (Ricky) Rubio. They're both great players, and they're both hard to stop, obviously. But in these games, every team has people like that that they depend on to come through, and he certainly did.
Can you talk about Patty Mills as a leader as a player and what an Australian matchup might look like for you guys?
Well, I've said so many things about Patty Mills over the years that his head is huge already. I hate to say it again, but I guess since you asked me I'm going to have to. He's a terrific, unique basketball player within a heart as big as this building, and he loves his country he loves his teammates. He is their leader. And off the court, he's even a better person than he is on the court. So, he's pretty special.
You seemed to go with length down the stretch with the five guys out there, and it worked. You guys closed brilliantly. But what's that like to have to do that and go away from a player. And all the great players that you have had in San Antonio, have you had you ever had to do that in a similar situation? Go away from one of them down the stretch?
Every game is a different strategy, in a sense. You have a game plan and you go in, but adjusting during the game is really important. So, it depends on how people are playing, what the matchups are, score and time, whether you need defense or offense, all those considerations go into who's going to be on the court at that time. So, we just make the best decision we can, and that's what we have decided tonight.
On the game versus Spain:
I mean, it’s a game of runs. They played with extreme energy to start the game, and we were a little sluggish, and we didn't shoot the ball well and that kind of affected our defensive a bit. But we got into it at the end of the second quarter, and we were able to get stops and get some scores, drive the basketball and get some momentum. So in that third quarter, we knew exactly what we needed to do.
On the USA’s energy:
The game is about buckets, so when you see the ball go in the rim, everybody gets more energy – coaches, players, trainers, everybody gets more energy when the ball goes in the rim. So you start making shots and make some 3s and guys calm down and then we had some stops.
On the USA’s 3-point shooting:
We got wide open looks in the first half, we just didn’t knock them down. We started rushing once we got down seven or eight. So, we calmed down once we tied the game up and were able to knock some shots down and stick to our fundamentals and keep working.
Just tell us why your game is always about getting baskets and scoring:
Once we see that ball going to the rim, it put all of us at ease. Our defense was a little better, a little tighter. We rebounded better after that, and guys just felt more comfortable shooting the basketball. So, we drove it to the rim at the end of that second (quarter) and were able to get our rhythm back a little bit. So, I like how we played in the second quarter. For the end of the second quarter all the way to finish the game, and that's how we are going to need to play going forward.
What kind of boost was that at the end of the second quarter?
It was a huge boost. We didn’t want to go into the half down double-digits. This team runs their sets with precision. They run it with pace. And then on the defensive side of the ball, they do a good job of running and jumping, playing together on defense. So, we knew we didn’t want to get down big against this team. Dame (Damian Lillard) drove it. I hit the 3, drove it. Zach drove it, so we getting to the cup and it's hard for people to stay in front of us. That gave us the momentum.
Have the USA reached its full potential as a team?
We’re in a good spot right now. Guys are starting to understand their roles and just get more comfortable within the team. In this setting, it’s always hard to get your footing as an individual player, because you don’t want to step on toes, you are coming in and out of the game, you’re not getting as many minutes getting them in the shot. So, I love how we stuck with it throughout this whole period of time and guys started to figure out what we needed to do.
On Ricky Rubio’s play:
… it's also why he's had an incredible NBA career. You know, he's a hell of a player. But when you go here (at the Olympics), it's even, it's even different. And he showed that tonight. He gave them a chance at the game. But we eventually put it up.
It’s no secret that teams are going to go at you inside, how do you feel like you're holding up?
I think we're holding up pretty good. And we're really not worried about that, you know. If that’s where teams want to go, that's fine. At the end of the day, we're going to battle. We battled. We battled and teams have tried that each game now. We let the first one get away but, we’ve answered that bell and we’re going to continue to answer that bell.
Do you feel you’ve reached your full potential as a team?
I think the potential of this team is endless. Unfortunately, we got two games left. And so we need to make sure that we're continuing to get better each and every time we step on the floor. And I think that's what we’ve done.
Do you feel the team really clicked in the second half?
I mean, we’ve done that before. But we want to put 40 minutes together. I think the first half we didn't play as good as we felt we should have, and we really just didn't play to the level of our competition. But we pushed it in that second quarter and tied it up. From there we kind of just took over.
You have a potential semifinal opponent in Australia. What do you make of the Australian team?
It’s a really good team, (they’ve) always been good with a lot of NBA players, a lot of great talents that come from Australia. So, it’s definitely going to be a battle (if we play Australia).
I know you weren’t there but do you have any takeaways from the USA’s exhibition loss to Australia in Las Vegas?
Not really. For me at that time, I was kind of focused on something else. But, for the team, us just being in shape, us actually having the group together now and being able to play together has been good for us for the last four or five games.
How are you feeling about the progress of the team?
It feels good. I think in the first half we have to do a lot better, especially first quarters, the way we come out of the gate, the way we go into the game. But I think we’re doing alright.
On Ricky Rubio’s performance:
I didn't expect anything less. Ever since he was what, like 12, he's been doing this. So for him to come out here and just display the type of type of talent that he is, is really cool to be a part of and to see.
You were down 10 toward the end of the second quarter, and by the time you get into the halftime locker room, it's tied. How big was that in terms of momentum, energy, good thoughts, all those things?
It was big. It was just big to respond. It was a time, not to get worried, but I guess to raise our sense of urgency. And basketball is a game of runs. We knew that they were a good team. They were going to make shots. It's all about how you respond.
How difficult is it finding a balance of doing the things that you do well back in the NBA versus coexisting with a group of so many great players?
It’s something that I think we're still figuring out. Like you said, we want to make the right plays. We want to do the right things, but we still need to be ourselves, because that's why we're here. That’s why we are on this team, because we all bring something different to the table. But just figuring out different games, different situations where, like you said, like tonight or the other night when different guys have it going, and we just have to recognize that on any given night and all contribute or do what we need to do individually to help win the game.
You had some great looks toward the end, and they just didn’t fall. Is that what you thought?
We are still trying to figure out our rhythm. We’ve got a lot of capable guys, of course. A lot of great looks. Sometimes it just doesn’t fall, but nothing to hang our heads on. Encourage guys to keep shooting, keep being themselves, and we’ll work on what we need to work on.
Is it that the chemistry really is needed in the medal round, if you get to the medal round, and these early struggles don’t really matter?
This game happened, and it's not the way we wanted it to go, but we still have opportunity. We still have a chance, and we've got focus on the next game and keep building and keep growing together.