By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
BEIJING – On paper, this summer’s version of the US national team was one of the weakest, probably since 2002. And the end result was similar to the FIBA World Cup 2002. This doesn’t change the fact that the goal was the gold and at some points of the tournament, the Americans felt that they were in enemy territory.
“Yeah, everywhere you go”, was Miles Turner’s answer after the end of the tournament when he was asked if he felt that it was the USA vs. the World. “Hostile crowds everywhere we go. Everybody wants us to lose. Sometimes, I’m not blaming the refs, sometimes even the refs are against us. Everybody wants to see us lose. We are Team USA. We have a winning tradition, and everybody wants to take down the top dog. So, it seems like, yeah, it is you against the world, but it’s just your four brothers on the floor. That’s who you got to play for”.
It was a test for everyone involved in the US national team this summer and Turner admitted that the end result will not go away easily: “We came out here, and we checked a couple of boxes, but we didn’t get everything accomplished. We qualified this team for the Olympics coming up, but we didn’t get that gold medal – something that is going to stick with us for a very long, shoot, the rest of our lives. And, you know, it hurts a little bit, but we came out here, and I think we did the best we could, given the circumstances”.
However, Chris Middleton had a different take when he was asked if he felt bad going home with his name connected to failure: “Nah. It’s not the result we wanted, but I don’t consider anybody in that locker room a failure. I don’t consider myself a failure at all”.
After all, nobody said that this team was expected to destroy competition. On, the contrary, as Harrison Barnes admitted: “I don’t think they were the self-proclaimed dream teams. That was something that was come up with by the media. I think that the game of basketball is growing around the world. Teams are developing and becoming good. This wasn’t the USA’s best showing, but I’m confident in what we have moving forward”.
And not only the USA, but also teams like Serbia and France didn’t make it to that final. “It just shows that in FIBA, everyone is really good, and it’s just about who is the better team that day”, Barnes said.
“That’s what ultimately it boils down to. Coming into the tournament, would anyone have guessed it would have been Spain and Argentina for the final? Probably not, but that’s just the game of basketball and why you compete, and you go out there and play. That’s what you get with single-elimination”.
Photo credit: FIBA.Basketball