USA Ready For Worlds To Tip
Aug. 27, 2010 • Istanbul, Turkey
That’s the last time a USA men’s national team visited Istanbul, Turkey and Abdi Ipekci Arena, site of the USA’s five preliminary round games of the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Men.
Prior to competing in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, the USA National Team made a stop in Istanbul for a pair of exhibition games versus Turkey. The Americans captured a pair of victories, posting a 79-67 win (8/8/04) and two days later battled to an 80-68 victory (8/10/04).
One member of that 2004 USA Men’s National Team is current USA team veteran Lamar Odom.
“I’ve been here before. Lot of culture. Great people,” said Odom about being in Istanbul. Asked what he remembered from the last time he was here, he offered up “Intensity. We had a tough morning that morning. Things happened and we had to come here and play a game in a hostile environment.”
The U.S. will open the ‘10 Worlds on Aug. 28 against Croatia. The game tips off at 12 p.m. EDT and will be televised live on ESPN Classic and re-aired on ESPN2 at 11 p.m. EDT.
The U.S. has never faced Croatia in World Championship play, but the Americans have met the European basketball proud country in the Olympics and boast of a 3-0 record in those clashes. But Coach K is not about to allow his team to overlook any team, and certainly not a talented team like Croatia.
When asked by a foreign journalist if he had any concern about the USA’s opener, Coach K responded “Oh yeah, I’m concerned about every game. Because they are good, and we know they play with a lot of pride and they are bigger than we are. If it becomes a very physical game, or if we don’t rebound, then they’re going to get a lot of second and third shots. If we can rebound then we’ll be able to run.
The U.S. mentor who guided the Americans to gold in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics, continued to pile on the praise for the European power.
“We have a lot of respect for them (Croatia). Their guard play is outstanding, (Roko) Ukic is one of the best international guards and (Marko) Popovic is just a veteran. Their size is a concern, they have five guys who were 6-11 or above so we don’t have as big of team. They have a rich tradition and we have a lot of respect for who they are,” remarked Coach Krzyzewski who is directing his third USA team in a FIBA World Championship.
Odom, who in 11 NBA seasons has won two NBA championships, knows something about what it takes to win and thinks he knows a key for USA success in Turkey.
“Our goal is to be the best defensive team in the tournament. If we do that, we’ll give ourselves a pretty good chance to win.”
Croatia is certain to test the USA and the Americans will be looking to continue to build on what was accomplished during its exhibition tour that saw it produce impressive wins over France (86-55), Lithuania (77-61), Spain (86-85) and Greece (87-59).