Las Vegas, NV – Team USA held their first practice to begin a week of training. The active roster will be trimmed down to twelve players who will compete and hope to reclaim the FIBA World Championship gold medal the USA team won back in 1994.
“There is not a guy playing in the NBA who has won a World Championship,” Coach Mike Kryzewski said. “The last time we won was 1994, if you win you get a bye into the Olympics.” “There are 24 teams competing in the Worlds and only 12 compete in the Olympics, these next five days are going to be very important for us.”
The players assembled by USA Chairman Jerry Colangelo are the next generation of basketball. Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Tyreke Evans are to name a few who are excited to have this opportunity to be apart of NBA history. The first practice involved Dallas Mavericks trainer Casey Smith working out the players with a variety of stretches and other basketball related drills. Then followed a scrimmage game against the USA Select Team (college players).
Jason Kidd returns to Team USA but this time as a coach. Kidd expressed his interest to coach during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and Coach Kryzewski presented the opportunity. Kidd has no plans to retire but will merely test the waters in coaching.
“I talked about coaching and coach K offered this opportunity,” Kidd said. “The challenges this team faces will be learning the physical side to the international league.” “You definitely won’t get the calls we’re used to in the NBA so we have work to do.”
Many of the top NBA players selected did not hold back their skills. A very intense practice resulted in players proving their worth to make the roster. These next four days are going to be important as the team will need to learn as much as they can to prepare for the Worlds. Changing their style of play will be most challenging as they learn the international game.
“I’m an aggressive player so the international league style of play is to my advantage,” Derrick Rose said. “One of my biggest strengths is driving and I think it’ll help me.” “They play more aggressive and it’s a total different game, we’re excited to have this opportunity.”
Chauncey Billups could not contain his excitement for getting the opportunity to play for a World Championship. Being one of the few veteran players returning Billups made sure his schedule was clear this Summer.
“I feel great to be here,” Billups said. “This is something I have always wanted to do as far as representing my country and to win a gold medal.”
Written by: Malaika Bobino