Following Team USA’s disappointing performance at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo  expressed his unhappiness with the plethora of players that decided not to participate in the tournament. 

Of the 35 NBA players that were initially selected for the U.S. player pool, only four ended up on the final roster, and as a result, Team USA lost to France and Serbia on consecutive days and failed to win a medal. 

“I can only say, you can’t help but notice and remember who you thought you were going to war with and who didn’t show up,” Colangelo said, via ESPN. “I’m a firm believer that you deal with the cards you’re dealt. All we could have done, and we did it, is get the commitments from a lot of players. So with that kind of a hand you feel reasonably confident that you’re going to be able to put a very good representative team on the court … No one would have anticipated the pullouts that we had.”

Colangelo emphasized that the players that did participate have his complete respect, but that the roster was limited from the beginning due to all of the dropouts. 

“The players did everything they can do,” Colangelo said. “They are a good group of guys. But we went in with higher expectations in terms of roster and it didn’t kind of happen the way we were hopeful and anticipating and expecting. That, to me, was a big disappointment.”  

For what it’s worth, coach Gregg Popovich refused to use the lack of participation as an excuse after the team’s loss to France. 

“I think it’s a disrespectful notion to even bring something like that up,” Popovich said.  “That ‘well, hey, you guys didn’t have this guy or that guy!’ That’s disrespectful to France or whoever else is in the tournament. France beat us. It doesn’t matter who was on the team. I couldn’t be more proud of these 12 guys who sacrificed their summer to come here having never played together before, and they put themselves in the arena and competed and they deserve credit for that. Just like France deserves credit for winning. It’s not about ‘well, the United States didn’t have their other guys.’ There’s no such thing as other guys. These are the guys that were here, and they did a great job, and I’m very proud of them.”   

The United States will have to address its disappointing summer quickly, as it qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and it clearly needs to avoid a similar letdown. 

“We’re going to let the dust settle, let things depress a little bit,” Colangelo said. “Obviously I’m always thinking ahead, which means what’s going to take place, and it’s going to happen fast and soon because we just have to get our act together for the Olympics. 

“Going forward for USA Basketball, we’re going to need the cooperation of teams, agents and then there has to be communication with players one-on-one to solidify those commitments. I am going to be anxious to see how many players reach out early to indicate that they wish and want and desire to play … But I’ll make this statement: It’s as much about maybe who we don’t want as much as who we want.”

Following the way that the World Cup turned out, it will be extremely interesting to see which players decide to participate to help the U.S. bounce back next summer. 

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September 12, 2019 at 02:57PM