Additional Quotes >> USA 81, Croatia 77
USA Head Coach Jamie Dixon, University of Pittsburgh
Well it came down to making plays at the end in order to get the win.
It was good. It was good to be in a game like that. We really haven't had to do that - make some plays, make some free throws down the stretch, play smart. I thought we did a pretty good job of doing what we wanted to do out of the timeouts. I thought we made the plays.
We could have played better during the game. The third quarter was a bad stretch, we got outrebounded by eight is what we had, when you get outrebounded by eight you're going to give up points.
What adjustments did you make between the third and fourth quarters because they we really going inside in the third?.
Yeah they were going inside on us. We changed how we were guarding the ball screens. We changed a little bit there and I think that took off their timing a little bit. But again it was just getting back to getting the rebounds and getting in there rebounding. Our offense got stagnant in the second half. We were holding the ball, we didn't get it reversed and we were standing and it just made it easier to guard.
After getting down, when did you feel like you were back in the game?
Well we were down four and it showed a lot of character to come back. We were up 13, actually we were up 16 and they hit that three at the end of the half so I was concerned about them coming out ready to go. They had the momentum going into the third even though they were down 13.
We got to come out and know that these guys have been through a lot, this is big for these other teams. The same thing with Greece. They're pros, they've been around, they've played in these type of tournaments, they're use to being in tournaments where there's pool play. They lose a couple of games and they're still alive and they understand how it works, They learn from their losses.
Now were down to one game. Greece has got two losses but it doesn't matter and they understand that.
What is going to be the key against Greece?
Guarding them, they shoot the ball well. I guess they really shot it well against Australia. We've got defend, we've got to defend. We'll get good shots, our offense is good when we get it moving but we've got to do it for 40 minutes. We got a little stationary there tonight, but we'll get better movement, better passing. Our passing the first half was tremendous.
ASHTON GIBBS (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.)
You've probably been through it before, but you had two free throws to ice the game, what were you feeling thinking?
Well, I've been in a lot of situations like this and that's what you dream of as a kid, to step up and hit bit shots and that's what I did. I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.
In a big game like this against a really good team, you got know they're going to make a big run right?
Yeah, they made a big run. But with good teams like they are, you've got to withstand big runs and that what we did. We took advantage of the opportunities they gave us on offense and we made big shots down the road.
It seems like everybody was making a big plays. Someone would get a rebounds, someone else would make free throws, that's kind of the formula with this team isn't it?
Exactly. We know everybody on this team is a great player. Everybody does well to help their college team so basically it's about egos, nobody has an ego on this team and that's what we've shown. Everything has been team first and then the individual second.
How much of an advantage is it for us that all the players have one year of college experience, they've played in big game with big crowds?
I think it's a big advantage. To be in a college atmosphere it's crazy and it's just exciting so you get use to big games and that's why I think we we're in this position right now. With eh fans supporting Croatia, it was definitely like an NCAA tournament game. Being in the NCAA Tournament definitely helped me throughout this game.
You play Greece for a second time, what do you have to do?
We've just got to play our game and that's hitting open shots, locking down on defense and rebounding as well. Defense comes first with us, defensive rebounding, and the open shots will come.
GORDON HAYWARD (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.)
Talks about the final minutes, you had a big basket where you drove the baseline for a dunk - talk about that play.
I was just trying to make play for the team. The guy was a little too tight so I went around him and finished. It was a real emotional game so I was trying to do what I can for the win.
Talk about the last play where you got fouled.
First off I think John (Shurna) got the offensive rebound from Ty (Tyshawn Taylor) or whoever's shot it was and that was a big time play right there. And he passed it to me and so we were able to get a shot up and get fouled. I think that kind of represents how we have played as a team the whole tournament. We're ready to play as a team tomorrow and win gold.
Any nerves there at the end when you were shooting those free throws?
I mean that's what you play for. That's what you shoot for growing up as a little kid - you always just imagine that, so there's no nerves. We've all played basketball in college so we've done that a million times.
What's it going to take to beat Greece?
Just being focused, just coming out real focused. We played them before so they're going to be coming out gunning. I mean it's the gold medal game so we're just going to put our hearts on the line and see where that gets us.
Will tomorrow night be the biggest game of your career so far?
I'd say going for a gold medal in the World Championship is pretty big, so yeah.
JOHN SHURNA (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.)
Talk about that last play - the loose ball, the ball almost goes out of bounds, the shot clock is running down, what was going through your mind, what do you remember?
Just crash the boards. I mean you just run in there. Like coach was saying, every possession counts and games can come down to one or two possessions. So it was just crash and try and grab i, get possession of it, and then Gordan was open underneath.
TERRICO WHITE (Mississippi / Memphis, Tenn.)
Was your heart beating as fast as everyone elses in the final minutes?
No it wasn't because in parts of my life I've been in situations like this so I'm kind of use to it.
It came down to rebounding, stopping their shooting and disrupting their inside game. Can you talk about that?
During timeouts coach told us we needed to rebound and to not really help on the big men because the big men are going to pass it out to the shooters. We did a good job with that tonight, especially down the stretch.
Different players contributed big plays down the stretch didn't they?
Yeah they did. And we made some key free throws tonight too.
Greece is up next and you've already played them once before, what do you think about that game?
We really can't them lightly since we beat them already, we've got to come in with the same game plan as we did that first time we play them and just play hard.