Gregg Popovich, Team USA players react to completion of World Cup prep games

2019-08-26T20:40:34+00:00 2019-08-26T20:57:08+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

26/Aug/19 20:40

Gregg Popovich and his players leave Australia with some precious experience in their bags.

By Eurohoops Team/

Team USA has completed its preparation ahead of the World Cup with a win over Canada in the last match of a series of exhibition games that were played in Australia.

Prior to the win over Canada, USA had lost to Australia. This defeat has contributed to what has been a learning experience for USA players, according to coach Gregg Popovich.

“They learned that in this competition, you can’t take nights off. It’s one and done,” Popovich said, per USA Basketball. “So, like I say, we are learning a lot. This group has never been together before and had a lot to learn. We still have a lot to learn, but game by game, practice by practice trying to figure it out. And, tonight was another good lesson to realize what the mindset has to be going into these games – how physical they are, how you have to sustain the energy for forty minutes. They are doing a great job of just paying attention, not talking to the referees and worried about a bad call or anything like that. It’s coming along, but as I said, there is a lot of improvement we can make, and that’s a good thing. I think we got good potential there to continue to execute better than we are now. So, we competed. That wasn’t a problem, but still, execution takes time and guys have to get used to each other. You have to practice, which is kind of difficult as you move forward in this competition. So, the games in a way are practices also, in the sense that you have to try to be as good at what you are trying to get accomplished as possible.

USA captain Kemba Walker believes that the loss to Australia taught a lesson that could be valuable for him and his teammates.

“It was very humbling. I think it just gave us a whole new perspective. Like I said, I thought against Australia we kind of let up, and we didn’t do the things that we did in the first game against Australia in the second game. Wake up call for us. Great wake up call. Hopefully, we can continue to grow. That’s the main goal for us, to continue to grow as a team, and tonight was great.”

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown trusts that there’s a lot of potential in this USA squad.

I think we are nowhere near,” Brown said regarding how close the team is in hitting its peak. “I think we are just scratching the surface. That’s just me saying what I’m saying. Obviously, I think we have a lot of room to improve. I’m biased of course. But, we still come out and play. We have some good talent. We just have to continue to work together until it falls in place like seamlessly. It’s a little bit rugged. It’s not fluid yet, but we will get there.

Among the things that Team USA experienced in Australia, was how popular center Brook Lopez is.

Lopez himself was pleasantly surprised. “That love, it was unreal. I’m going to have to text Bogs (Andrew Bogut), ask him what the professional league is like out here, maybe come out here and team up with him.”

“What the hell was that all about? Don’t understand. So, we screwed with it for a while. We were trying to keep our focus, because we don’t want to make anything silly. But, it got so ridiculous, that we finally, we succumbed to the crowd,” Pop commented.