Additional Quotes >> USA 80, Serbia 78
July 1, 2011 ē Liepaja, Latvia
Paul Hewitt, USA head coach
Opening comments on the game:
I thought Serbia played very, very well.† This was a great test for our guys. Weíre just trying to get better in each and every game. I thought Serbia did some did some very good things. When we had them down and made a run their coach called a timeout and they got right back into the basketball game which shows their resiliency and toughness. I think this is the type of game we can benefit from moving forward. Weíre obviously happy with the win, feel fortunate that we got the win, but I think the benefits from this game may be shown later in the tournament.
It was a really great fourth quarter. The two number fours, Jackson and Cvetkovic really stepped it up. How good was that to watch?
Cvetkovic caused problems for us all day. There were times when we were trying to go over the ball screen and he got into the paint and created easy shots for himself or teammates.† We got an eight point lead and I made the decision, not a very bright move in hindsight, to go under the screen and he stepped behind and made a three to get them back in the game. So heís obviously an outstanding player.
Joe Jackson made big time plays in transition all game long. He knows he can take care of the ball better, he had six turnovers thatís too many turnovers. But both of them did, in the fourth quarter, perform like primetime players.
Whatís a close win like this do for the team?
When youíre trying to develop some cohesiveness on the fly here, getting into situations that we can learn and grow from, this is big. Certainly to win makes it even better because I think the lessons we take out of this game are going to feel a lot better knowing that we won the game. Joe Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, James Bell, Tim Hardaway, Tony Mitchell, those guys played big in the fourth quarter, they made big plays and their confidence is only going to grow from this type of effort.
Serbia is traditionally a strong rebounding team, how important was the USAís 43-29 rebounding edge?
Thatís got to be our advantage. Offensively we may not be as complicated as some of the other teams that weíre going to face, but I think we can manufacture extra shots on the offensive boards.†
(Villanova / Orlando, Fla.)
Talk about the game:
It was a hard-fought game for both sides; everybody gave it their all. Iíd like to thank Serbia for giving us the opportunity to play them, thank our coaching staff for putting us in the right position to win and I think it was a great game for both sides.
Talk about the defense down the stretch:
In the beginning we said we wanted to limit the fouls that we can control, maybe the reaching fouls, the fouls 94 feet from the basket. I just focused on trying to make a play instead of going for the ball; staying solid, staying in front of my man and the opportunity came for me to make a play and I just did it. I think that was what everybody on our team was looking for. It wasnít just me, it was a team effort.
(Michigan / Miami, Fla.)
Talk about tonightís game:
It came down to some big plays. We didnít hold our head down, we all came together as a team and I think this W proves to everybody that we are playing together and we are getting better, and at the same time weíre not holding our heads down or fussing or fighting even though we were down five with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter. We all came together and said, Ďletís huddle up and get the Wí and it paid off.
How import is a win in a game like this?
Itís very important. It builds team chemistry and gives everybody the utmost confidence to go into the next games and come out with more Ws. Itís just another step to get us to the gold medal game.
A lot of players on this team can contribute. How important is that?
Itís very important. Itís not going to be everybodyís night. Joe Jackson had a great game playing against Egypt and we needed him and he gave us some big layups and some big fast-break points in the fourth quarter. And like coach said, itís a long tournament and weíre only at two games so we still have a lot of game before we get to the gold medal game. We just have to come out here and play every day.
Talk about your game tonight:
I was just taking what the defense gave me and my teammates did a great job of finding me, and I was able to come up with big baskets when we needed them. The ball was in my hands and I like the ball in my hands when we need a basket.
(Memphis / Memphis, Tenn.)
Did you enjoy that game?
Yeah it was a fun game but it got tough, they got tough late. They were getting to the free throw line. We were trying to play aggressive but the refs were controlling the game so we couldnít play physical like we do in the U.S.† Thatís something you have to learn playing overseas, itís different. They let you play physical but you canít ride guys and thatís what we were trying to do. They made it a tight game because we kept them at the free throw line.
The Serbian coach said they had a difficult time with how quick you got down court and your penetration. Could you feel that advantage?
I feel like when I hit my stride the game just opens up and I can get to the paint. If I make the right reads I could get right to the basket. The game just opened up. I saw the basket and I was like Ďwhy would I settle for†jumpers, theyíre up by four, I might as well attack the basket† and get to the free throw line or make something happen.
Tonight it was guard against guard, it was a tough matchup:
Oh yeah, you know there are good players all around the world.† I play against good players in the U.S., there are good players overseas, youíve got to bring it every night.† Itís a good experience to play against guys from around the world because it shows you that everybody can play. I respect all the people we play.
What does a close win like this mean for this team?
This is Godís work. We win together, we lost together.† Everybody on this, as I can see, they want to win, they work hard and things are going to come together. Weíve been with each other for two weeks now, and things are starting to gel; weíre all getting comfortable with each other, weíre learning what we like to do on the court, so playing in a game like this helps a lot.
(Connecticut / Norcross, Ga.)
Talk about the plays down the stretch:
We were trying to get a stop. I donít remember who was playing defense, but they played good defense and forced him into a tough three and I saw it coming off so I went and got it (rebound).
What does a win like this do for the team?
It helps our confidence. Throughout the game we didnít give up on each other, we kept fighting those times we got down, we just tried to keep fighting and it shows that we can come together and fight as a team so that does a lot for our confidence.
(North Texas / Dallas, Texas)
How important was the USAís rebounding tonight, especially coming against Serbia?
Rebounding is very important. It helps us dominate the game, it creates more shot opportunities and especially helps the team.
Are you feeling more comfortable in the games?
Oh yeah, Iím getting back in the grove of things. These games have really boosted my confidence and now Iím ready to play.
Did you feel like you were able to take advantage inside?
Yeah, somewhat. Youíre just playing basketball basically. I felt good; I was just playing.
A key play was your offensive rebound that resulted in two free throws:
Yeah it was key a rebound but itís a team effort. Everybody contributed in the game and basically thatís how we got the win.