Quotes: USA Men's World Cup Qualifying Team - Mexico
JIM BOYLEN, USA Head Coach
On the win over Mexico after losing the last matchup:
You know, we started this camp with Mexico on our heart. They humbled us in Mexico. We were ready to play against them. They beat us from the 3-point line down there. And they beat us bad. So, I have to give our guys credit. They came prepared. They followed the game plan and they executed against a really good team that we respect. We spent a lot of time on them. You know, I don't think a day went by where we didn't think about Mexico because of the respect we have for them. I just give the credit to the guys for being ready to play and locking in. We had some goals in mind and we followed the game plan to reach those goals. Next time question for you. First time playing for team USA, obviously, how was planning its international basketball and this time.
On Mexico’s Yahir Bonilla:
We were very impressed with Bonilla. We had him on film. And when we got here in person, I didn't realize how big he was, and with the ball skills and the shooting. They've got a really good young player to go along with their veteran guys. That’s exciting for Mexico. He’s going to be a tough guy to deal with for a long time.
On the experience of the second qualifying window vs. the first in Nov. 2021:
Well, you know, the first window was very difficult. Cuba gave us a heck of a game. We were down in the last five minutes. Mexico played terrific. I thought Mexico, last time we played them, was more physical than us, tougher than us. And they shot the ball at an unbelievable rate so they were prepared to play. We just wanted to come in and take care of the defensive end of the floor. This group of guys bought into that from day one. From our opening walkthrough on Friday night, we talked about what we needed to do and how we needed to do it. To their credit and their character, they did it. This is a tough 10 days and they locked in and they got along and they communicated and they led each other, all of them. This is not a situation where you have maybe guys at the end of your bench who don't play. This is 12 really good players that come together and they make a choice to be a team. I think you saw that connection, especially at the defensive end of the floor, and then the way we shared it at the offensive end.
On preparing for the games in this window:
We prepared our game plan for Puerto Rico and Mexico, there was a dual game plan. A lot of the film we watched was about the basics: contesting, one-on-one defense, defensive rebounding. We were able to put clips from Mexico in there. So it was like a dual prep. When you have, basically, a game and then a day-and-a-half and then a game, I thought we had to do that. I thought we learned from our first window on how it is. That was back-to-back so we should have done that that time too. So we learned and we grew and I grew. But the guys executed it. We walked through in the hotel, we'd walk through here, we’d watch film, we'd meet in the morning and they never wavered.
TARIK BLACK (Grand Rapids Gold/Kansas)
Tell me what this experience has meant to you and talk a little bit about today's game.
First and foremost, today's game was wonderful. I feel like we probably made a lot of people proud by the score that we put up and we kept them under 68 like we all agreed upon, and just played well together to for coming together for the first time in the last 10 days. I think we made a lot of people proud by the way we were able to come together and be cohesive.
As far as the experience itself, it was amazing. Such an honor to represent the USA, in whatever capacity you got the chance to, not everybody gets the phone call and can carry that mantle. But those of us who were called came into this locker room and we came together, we fell under your coach’s leadership and we were able to leave here in a way that I feel like everybody can leave here good, high spirited, and I'm leave here proud of themselves and what they put forth.
Langston Galloway (College Park Skyhawks/Saint Joseph’s)
On the experience of playing with USA for the first time:
It was a great opportunity. I really was excited when Sean (Ford) and Jim (Boylen) gave me a call. I was looking forward to it. Coach has been preaching, ‘look, we didn't have to be here to play’ and everything like that, but I was excited. I knew over these last few years in NBA for me, I was looking forward to the opportunity. I was fortunate enough to be in the G League to be able to play in this situation. This opportunity doesn't come around that often. It was truly a blessing for me to be here, learn from coach and really just be you know, be impactful, be a leader and learn from the guys that we got a chance to play with.
On having this experience alongside other players who have been in the NBA:
This event, it really show there's talent all around the world. And it's not just in the United States. It truly is a journey. You see a lot of guys that either play in the G League, play in the NBA, (they) play one or two years and they go back to their country. That’s what's so crazy about being international, you see a lot of guys that you played against in the past. Being able to see (Orlando) Mendez, he was a formidable opponent, but at the same time too, he’s played against guys in the NBA in his league and playing here. Every chance you get, you know that they're just as good as you and you’ve got to come out and bring your A game every single night. It is great to see other guys from other countries come out here and play and it was it was great to get two wins knowing that, hey, both of these teams, they both played hard and a lot of respect for both of them.
On what’s next for him over the next several months:
Just looking for opportunity. I mean, playing in these two games was huge for me knowing that the connections are built with USA knowing that I can play. They can reach out to all 30 teams and say, ‘hey, this guy needs to be on the next level.’ So that was the main thing for me, getting this opportunity. And then secondly, going back to College Park and continue to work on my game, continue to build and be ready. If a team calls, says they want me to sign for a 100day or the rest of the season, I'll be ready. Just taking one day at a time, continue to build, continue to grow. This is a great opportunity for me to learn and continue to get better.
MATT RYAN (Grand Rapids Gold/Chattanooga)
Talk about today's game and what you were focused on a little bit and, and then again, what it meant to represent the USA.
For me personally, I was just focused on being ready, whenever coach called my name and you know, go in there and do what I could to help the team. You know, from a team standpoint, everybody who was a part of this team signed a piece paper that said we were gonna hold our opponents under 68 (points) and we did that, which is huge for us. And, you know it's just been an honor. It's my first time being a part of Team USA. I didn't hesitate when I got that call if I was interested in playing, you know, I said, ‘absolutely.’ It was everything I hoped it would be and more. We came out here with two wins, which the USA needed and you know I hope to be back for sure.