NEW YORK -- Team USA played its last game on American soil when they beat the French national team 86-55 in New York City's Madison Square Garden this past Sunday before heading to Spain to continue training for the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
Team USA was led by Memphis Grizzlies' Rudy Gay with 19 points off the bench and a few thunderous dunks which got the fans in Madison Square Garden off their seats.
After the game I was able to speak with Gay to ask him a few questions on Team USA and the Grizzlies.
Jeff: The US has not won at the FIBA World Championship since 1994. Thoughts?
Rudy: “We’re expecting to win.”
This is a young US squad that is about to face international teams who have been playing together for years. Is that a concern?
No. I think it will be to our advantage being a young team. A lot of the guys on the team are young but we been seasoned. We are seasoned veterans in our own right. Young-ness shouldn't be a problem.
What is one thing you are looking forward to from the Grizzlies next season?
One thing I'm looking forward to is progression. Every year since I been there we progressed. Next year we want to take it to the next level and get into the playoffs and make some noise.
The Grizzlies recently acquired guard Tony Allen. What does he bring to Memphis?
Great player, great defender. He should bring a lot to our team and he’s another veteran. Honestly we’ve played out of the draft for a long time. It's good to bring another veteran.
It must be great to witness the progress of OJ Mayo as a professional basketball player.
OJ is becoming more of a player. He's been more of a scorer since coming out of college but now has become the player people have expected him to be.
Other Team USA notes:
Indiana Pacers' Danny Granger suffered a couple of injuries during training camp with Team USA. Recently he injured his finger but said he is feeling better, “It's good," said Granger to Project Spurs, "I'm a little sore for the most part. I just take some anti-inflammatories and pain meds to keep it out of my mind."
Granger also commented on the adjustment to the international style of basketball, "It's definitely an adjustment because we are used to playing an NBA style of game. In the international level, the fouls aren’t called the same, travels aren’t called the same. It’s a process getting adjusted to."
Los Angeles Lakers' Lamar Odom talked to Project Spurs about his views on Team USA, “It's pretty good. It's working out, "said Odom when I asked about the team's chemistry, "We do everything together for such a short period of time. We got another month. Chemistry will grow and continue to grow. We will just continue to defend and try to be the best defensive team in the tournament.”
Odom also spoke to Project Spurs about the pressure to win gold in Turkey, “There's always pressure for us to win. It's basketball. People expect us to win but the pressure is what we thrive on. There's pressure in every NBA game. Most of these guys are expected to lead their team to victory. The pressure is something that’s good for us.” Odom went on to say, “We just got to play, keep defending and just play. We know the rules, but calls, the rules . . . all you can do is play basketball. Basketball is the universal language.”
He also shared his thoughts on if the team is worried about the physical style of play, “We are not worried about that at all.”