THE Steve Kerr and Jaylen Brunson appeared ready to handle the pressure of the… “requirement” of the US national team to win the World Cup after the 2019 fiasco in China. The coach of Team USA emphasized that if the goal is not achieved there will be harsh criticism, but no one will die.
“We feel excited to participate in this event. Everywhere we go we see the interest and love of the people, that’s why I believe it will be a very strong World Cup. We have worked well in preparation, I love coaching these guys. We have a young team, but they are very thirsty, enjoy it and work hard. We know how difficult the tournament will be, because very strong teams are participating. We had a difficult World Cup in 2019 in China where we were seventh. All we can take from this is to learn some things and see what we can do better in the future. This is what we tried to do in preparation. 2019 was a useful experience for me to be an assistant to Gregg Popovich, to see what it’s like to have to build a new team in six weeks. It is completely different from the NBA, since there is no continuity and addition of pieces over time. But we have players with great attributes in this team and the most important thing for me is to simplify things for your players“, he said.
“Pressure is all about how you handle it. We all love what we do. To be good at competition, you have to accept that there are wins as well as losses. Approach, effort and chemistry matter. I really like what we do and the stakes are high. The beauty of sport is that if we don’t manage to get the gold, no one will… die. We understand that if we don’t make it there will be criticism, but we’re okay with that. In any case, we feel lucky to experience all this. We will try our best and whatever will be done will be done. That’s the nature of championships“, he added.
As for Saturday’s premiere against New Zealand; “We are preparing for the match against New Zealand. Mark Few has taken over the scouting and has given us good information on how he plays. We have a lot of respect, they are a team that plays hard and you have to be well prepared to beat them».
Regarding the utility of friendlyhe said: “We had good performances in the friendlies, where the main thing was to adapt to the FIBA regulations. We faced strong teams that will play a role in the World Cup. Spain and Germany gave us a hard time and that will be useful going forward».
At the same time, he was asked about the gold he had won himself as a player 37 years ago. “I have great memories of the 1986 World Cup in Spain. We had won the gold, but I had torn my cruciate ligament in the semi-final and it was difficult for me. But being part of this team, getting the gold medal and looking at it at home from time to time, it was something very beautiful for me».
Finally, he was asked to talk about Kobe Bryant, since August 24th is called “Mamba Day” because of the numbers (24 and 8) worn by the late Lakers ace in his career. “It’s my mother’s birthday, so Happy Birthday, Mom! I’m sure he won’t see us now. I have great memories of Kobe, both as an opposing player and as a coach. It was luck to be together at the same time in the NBA. He’s a player who meant a lot to the league and to all of us“, he said.
On his part, Mr Jaylen Brunson he said: “We are very happy to be here and it is a great experience for me and my teammates. We have been working very hard for the last few weeks and we are trying to get better every day. We are facing teams that have experience and players who have been playing together for a long time. We have players who come from different backgrounds, but in this team we leave our egos at the door. All the guys in the team are smart and the first thing we want is to win. It’s about what the team needs, one night someone can be the star and another night someone else. Everyone in our team realizes this».
The Knicks star and captain of Team USA also referred to the high expectations that exist for his team and how much this weighs on the players. “For me, personally, there is no pressure. As long as you work hard, there is no pressure. There are more difficult situations than others, but my confidence comes from my hard work. In difficult times one will lean on the other“, he pointed out.
Source: Sport Fm
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