Quotes: USA Men's World Cup Qualifying Team 95, Cuba 90
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USA head coach Jim Boylen
General Comment on the game:
Give Cuba a lot of credit. I thought they brought it to us. They were ready to play. Their physicality matched with their skill level tonight. They shot the ball well, they moved the ball. We were hoping to be better defensively than we were. But to me, you have to give them credit for making shots, making difficult shots, and they got a lot from a lot of guys.
Jim can you can talk about the decision to not call a timeout when I think it was 92 to 90 and you guys inbounded to IT (Isaiah Thomas), can you talk about the decision to not call time there and if you just had some sort of connection or if you knew that he was just going to keep the ball in his hands and wait for something opened up for him on that on that big possession?
Well, we've had a good week of preparation, we have prepared for those moments, and we were organized and he (Isaiah Thomas) made a huge play, a big play. I thought he made a couple great plays at the end. Not only the 3-point shot, but the drive baseline pitch is something that we've worked on end of game. So those are situations we have put our guys in before and we felt comfortable with it.
Comment on Isaiah Thomas being part of the USA team.
I'd like to just add to that. For Isaiah, he has been the ultimate professional with this group of guys. His leadership, his competitiveness, and his experiences has really helped this group and obviously it took over at the end.
What does this opportunity mean to you?
Well, it's a huge thing in my life, you know, to represent USA Basketball, just to put the colors on. The first day was an emotional moment for me, it was a big deal for my family. To get the opportunity to coach and this is one of the best group of guys I've ever been around. We've only been together since last Saturday, but we’ve got high character guys that care. We've worked really hard and it's fun to teach and coach a group of guys that you like being around. So hopefully we can continue to improve over the weekend and keep growing together.
Can you talk about what this experience to represent the United States means to you?
It was definitely a great experience, fun experience, you know going out there with these guys. Definitely one of the things I'm definitely looking forward to tomorrow, different, more physical than in the States as just the style of play over here. I think everybody did a good job of staying together and made it easier for us to get through it and come out with a win.
What would you say was a key to the U.S. winning?
Just staying with it. They gave us their best shot and sometimes teams fold in those moments and I think we did a good job of not letting them getting us out of our game and we focused on what we needed to do and down the stretch wand e made some big plays and got the win.
You seemed to have a good connection with Isaiah (Thomas). How difficult is that when you're out there and you haven't really played a lot together?
I think it says a lot about the group of guys. We've been together for a week, but I think just getting out there and trying to figure each other out in practice to build good enough chemistry that we're on a floor and now it’s not so much that we're wondering where the people are going to be, we kind of know each other's games a little bit, so it definitely helps.
What's it mean to you to be out there representing USA?
It’s an honor and I’m definitely blessed for the opportunity, definitely trying to make the most out of it, and looking forward to going back out there competing again tomorrow.
You talked in February when you did AmeriCup about what it means to wear USA and I imagine it's the same sort of feeling now. What was your thinking regarding why you joined this team and just how much did it mean?
It's an honor and a privilege to put USA on your chest so anytime you know USA Basketball comes calling I'm always gonna be for it. We have a great group of guys, great coaching staff, and it was fun to be out there you know to compete against somebody else. It was a great game, it was a tough game for us. We didn't play perfect, but we got the win and that's the ultimate goal, and we're just gonna learn from tonight.
What do you think the guys learned from what this level, what this tournament, the effort that you're going to get from opponents when they see USA looking back at them. You can say all those things, you think guys really needed to see it and experience it before they truly believe in it and buy into it.
For sure. I mean the coaches kept talking about it all week. Like they're so physical, they're gonna play their A game, and you know we just stayed at it, we just stayed the course in the game. We stuck to the game plan, and we got to win and we're excited about the win but we're also excited about building on it and playing even better tomorrow.
How honored are you to represent the USA for a second time?
For me, it's a dream come true. I mean even the first time around, anytime you can represent your country, and represent it in the right way, it's an honor and a privilege and I'm just thankful, you know, for this opportunity to come together with a great group of guys, a great coaching staff. And you know, like from day one our ultimate goal is to win these two games, no matter what, that's the most important and you know we did a good job of that tonight and we got another one tomorrow.
How do feel playing versus a country that has a lot of pride like Cuba, and do you see yourself playing again in the NBA or overseas?
We give all the respect to Cuba, there were a hell of a team, that made everything tough for us. They were talented. The big the big fellow (Jasiel Rivero) was a load for us, but collectively as a group, we came together and got the win. And for me personally, the ultimate goal is to get back in the NBA, but I just love playing the game of basketball. So obviously at some point, if the NBA isn’t an option, you know I’ve got to look at options overseas. I'm in love with the game. So, no matter where I'm playing, I have no pride whatsoever. I just love competing and I love playing against the best players in the world.