USA Ready For Win Or Go Home Time
Sept. 5, 2010 • Istanbul, Turkey
Twelve hours after watching the first pair of games in the eight-finals round of the FIBA World Championship for Men in Istanbul, and seeing Greece and Croatia sent home packing, the USA Team was back on the practice court Sunday for its final training session before tangling with Angola on Monday evening in its win-or-go home eight-finals game.
Video and a team meeting started the rainy day, and then the U.S. team members went through a spirited 90 minute workout at the home arena of the Turkish professional basketball club team - Besiktas JL.
It was the second practice for the U.S. team in as many days.
“Today we had no contact but good enthusiasm, game like preparation and we already started putting in our game plan for Angola. The guys are healthy. I think the two days have helped us and hopefully translate into playing the kind of defense especially that we want to play,” said U.S. mentor Mike Krzyzewski.
In the first of four evenings that feature a pair of eight-finals games, Serbia kept rolling, but it took an Aleksandar Rasi free throw with one second remaining before Serbia had its narrow 73-72 win over Croatia. In the other eight-finals contest Saturday, defending World Champion Spain pushed away from Greece in the final quarter to capture an 80-72 win.
Both games were played in front of a capacity Sinan Erdem Dome crowd of 15,000.
“I think everybody in our group watched the games and they saw a heightened sense of play and emotion. They were both outstanding games and the reality then hits, those two teams that lost, that’s it,” said the USA head coach. “So I think it was good for our team to see that because it goes up a couple levels now and we hope that will make us even better.”
The team also had a surprise guest, none other than Spike Lee.
“I know a lot of the guys on the team, Coach K was gracious enough to allow me to sit in and have breakfast with the team this morning and the practice, so I love it,” Lee said.
Never shy about his basketball predictions, when asked for his prediction on the outcome for the World Championship he didn’t hesitate in giving his response for the USA squad.
“Ah gold! That’s why everybody’s here right? Let people know once again you know, where the game was invented. We know the rest of the world’s caught up, but still, we got this.”