Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich once again paid compliments to Australia and the Boomers, in a conference call hosted yesterday.
“We’re going to have a 20-person squad to pick from and the 12 players that we bring to Australia, we hope will be the people that fit the best, both talent-wise character-wise and just basketball IQ-wise to be able to compete against the best teams, one of which is obviously Australia.”
Pop’s perspective isn’t new. Back in April, the San Antonio Spurs head coach had highlighted the Boomers’ discipline and experience as factors for success in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
“It’s obviously a talented group, they’re NBA players for a reason so that goes without saying, but beyond that, the group has a wonderful basketball IQ so to speak. They’re basketball players, they’re not just one-on-one players, they’re people who understand how to play and they enjoy playing with each other,” Popovich said yesterday.
“It’s one of those givens that all the countries that the USA plays against want to beat them badly and they come together as a family to do that.
“They’ve played together a lot and their experience and natural inclination for the game is pretty obvious so I expect the Australians to be a major factor at the World Cup.”
Popovich also mused on how it would feel like coaching against Patty Mills, who has been a long-tenured member of his Spurs team.
“In all honesty, it’s going to be a little strange watching him play against us. He’s a brilliant player and wonderful human being in our program and obviously, he’s been that important to the national team in Australia.
“He’s one of those special people that all of us fall in love with. It will be odd to be playing against him, but it will all be in good faith, be competitive whatever the outcome I’ll live with.”