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Brazil 101 vs. Venezuela 75

Can you talk about the game today?

I think Brazil did a lot of things right.  They were focused during this game, they respected Venezuela, the played strong defense, attacked the rim and we are establishing a system that's appropriate to the quality of players we have.  During the second quarter we kept our consistency and Venezuela fell.

What is the importance of Brazil's depth - playing 10 - 12 players and being comfortable with all of them on the court?
I think Brazil is here to win the Gold medal so we're very conscious of what we need to do in every game.  It's fundamental for us to win every game but also to build the team because we still have some work to do.  There will be a point where a win means Olympics and a loss means not going. When that moment comes, we need to make sure all of our twelve players are in the best possible condition.  This tournament is very long, a lot of games in 12 days, so all players must perform well every day.  It's normal for players to have their good and bad days, so Brazil's advantage is that we can rotate our players.

[Question inaudible]
More than resting the team it's a matter of activating the players that have the necessary qualities for that particular game and resting others.  The head coach has to work with that, and obviously when you have twelve good players, you're job is much easier.  That's the Brazilian strength. It's also the responsibility of the coaching staff, and mine in particular, to make sure all the players are working for the team, not for individuals.  That's why today was a good game for us.  The players acted well and played collectively.   Our players are not thinking individually, they are thinking collectively.  We are all concerned about Brazil winning.  Whether it's because of Leandrinho's 30 points yesterday or Machado's 20 today, is not important.

You opened the game very nicely and that gave way to a good performance from the rest of the team.  Can you talk a little bit about tha
I think, like coach said, we have a lot of talented players, so we don't have to always have the ball.  We can share the ball.  Today was a good day for me and that helped the team, but tomorrow may be different and we have the talent to win either way.

Brazil shot extremely well and showed a lot of balance, did that make things a lot more difficult for you during the game?
We played well during the first part of the game.  We controlled their shots, but in the second half, that was reversed.  We applied the triangle defense in the first two quarters and they weren't adapting well to it.  In the second half, we just weren't mentally there.  We didn't have the patience we needed to do things and we became anxious.  That's what caused what you saw, the unnecessary fouls for example.  It's also part of the inexperience of our players, who haven't had international experience.

Romero played well today, but he had to work twice as hard today against Brazil.  Do you agree?

Yes. Romero is our most experienced players. We rely on him. He is playing outside of Venezuela. He plays in Europe and is undoubtedly our best player.

Having played with Brazil and the U.S., what is each of the team's advantage when they play against each other?

I don't think Brazil can defeat the U.S., unless Brazil plays at home.  For Brazil to win, Barbosa has to come out and play a great game.  The U.S. is more athletic and physical.

Coach was talking about Brazil's defense causing difficulty for you guys, do you agree?
Brazil is a great team; they have a different strategy than ours.  They had good picks and played good defense - they're just a good team.  Hopefully they'll win - I'm going for them.

Argentina 87, Puerto Rico 75

What's your recap of today's game?

It's important to point out that from this point on, we are playing to qualify.  Puerto Rico was very focused in the first quarter, making their baskets, very controlled, with great shot selections and a very good defense that caught us off guard.  We had put in every player, including a players that had been injured the past 10 days.  We had to work very hard, defend and then when we finally found the drives to the basket, we started to make a comeback and feel more powerful.  But this was a completely different team than we saw in Puerto Rico, even though they were still a good team back then.  They have improved significantly.  They did a great job yesterday and today, which makes our win even more significant.

Can you talk about Argentina's patience in the game - behind by 13 and then making a comeback in the second half?
Argentina has a lot of experience.  We have players that have a lot of experience in international games and have lived this type of game hundreds of time.  So it's easy when you have a team that knows that there's no need for panic when you're behind in the first quarter and that you just have to work hard to recover.  It's not difficult for us to have patience.  Maybe players without this much experience get anxious and end up in a worst situation.  The idea when we were 14 down was to recover, work hard and remain calm.  The truth is that the difference between Puerto Rico and Argentina's game was harder for us to recover from than the 14 point gap.  Puerto Rico played incredibly well and Argentina played poorly in the first half.

When Ramos picked up his fourth foul, you were still down by six, but it seems like at that point, your team was driving to the basket a lot more defensively.  Is that accurate?
Yes, it is.  When Ramos picked up his fourth foul, we tried to play inside the paint a lot more and tried to get him his fifth foul.  We can't play against Ramos, he's too big.  So it was good for us to have him in foul trouble.

With so many of your players missing, what are you asking of Delfino that you normally wouldn't if your other players were here?
When we came here we decided not to think about the players that are missing but to focus on the players that are here.  Delfino and Scola are NBA players, Scola is maybe one of the most important players in Europe in the last five years, but that's not what's important.  I don't tell Delfino he needs to do anything differently than the rest of the team, just because he's an NBA star.  That would put too much pressure on him, and he doesn't need more pressure.  He needs to play calm.

What happened in the game?

Well, we know that Argentina will always play half court pressure, and that doesn't work for my team. They also have bigger and quicker men than mine, and that complicates us significantly.  I have foot work problems with my big men, so that was a big problem for us.

What do you expect for tomorrow?
Tomorrow is a win-win situation, no other option.  Losing is hard, but we need to face it and move on because we need to be ready for tomorrow.   We are calm and just need to play hard tomorrow.

You came out strong and then when Ramos picked up his fourth foul, your pace changed.  Is that true?
When Peter is out, everyone gets the offensive rebounds over us.  He's out big man, we don't have any others.  So when Peter is out, it really affects out plays.

You hurt your knee at one point in the game, are you OK?

I'm fine. I knocked my knee with another player, but I'll be active for tomorrow.

Canada 93, Virgin Islands 83

They did a great job shooting the ball from the three, 13 of 24, that really kept them in the game.  I was a little disappointed the way we came out defensively but we came out with intensity in that second quarter and changed the game.

Can you talk about the role of [Juan] Mendez on your team, coming off the bench and scoring.
Juan is a very explosive player, he is unique because he can play strong around the basket and can step out and shoot the three-point shot, he gets on the glass.  He likes contact; he likes the physical play around the basket. 

Thoughts on playing the USA tomorrow.

I think tomorrow we approach it no different than any other game.  If you look at the way the United States play, they generate a lot on their defense.  They want to create turnovers and get out and run.  We can't let the game become a highlight film game.  That is a game we can't allow to happen. 

From Puerto Rico to now the turnovers have gone way down, you guys have to be happy about that. 
I had a chance to learn from Puerto Rico and Brazil.  Coach brought me out there he told me I should use this time to learn the offensive.  Today the guys made shots, my assists are a credit to them. 

Thought about tomorrow
It should be a lot of fun.  It's not every day that you get a chance to play against the best players in the world.

Coach will you talk about the game and the expectations of the match up tomorrow against Brazil.
I thought our kids played real hard, they came out and played a pretty good game I thought.  Unfortunately Canada played better, they played hard and they shot the ball extremely well. They shot the three-point shot well through out the game.  I thought the big guys made the difference. 
Big game tomorrow against Brazil, Brazil is a very good team.  They have added some players since we played them in the Pan American Games a few weeks ago.  They have a much better team then they were then.  It will be a tough game for us tomorrow against Brazil, they are a very good team.

Does it change make you change your game when you drive the lane and you see a [Samuel] Dalembert or a [Dwight] Howard, does that make you change your game at all?

Yes it does.  They clog up the middle and alter shots.  They make it hard for us to score in the paint.  You try to shoot a rainbow or a one dribble pull-up because it's tough going in there against those big trees.

Do you feel that we have seen the best of the Virgin Islands and what else will you show us over the next couple of nights?

We still have a lot of work ahead of us, tomorrow's game against Brazil.  I think we go back to the hotel and rest up and go back to the drawing board, we should be good tomorrow.

Panama 95, Mexico 90

[Question inaudible]

We talked in the locker rooms and discussed Mexico's strategy, which is suffocating. They also have a very good defensive system.  So we decided that we had to first break their defense and then score.  That's what we did and it gave us good results.  We played our defense too, which is similar to Mexico's.

So you think this win puts Panama in the running?
In this type of tournament it's important to always think that you're playing your last game, particularly because there's nothing written on paper.  We lost our game with Uruguay and knew there was another chance for us to win the next one.  Now that we did, we'll see what type of results we have moving forward.

This is the third game in three days, and coming off of yesterday's performance, were you concerned about playing against Mexico and their tempo?

We played a game that was exhausting in the first two quarters because we wanted to match their intensity, which we did.  I was just a little bit concerned.  A couple of guys had bad knees and we had to make a decision about playing them or not.  But we had to match their intensity out there and that was the biggest thing we talked about in the locker room and pre game set up.  We also had to execute, every time they had a break we had to score.

How can you play so differently from one day to the next?

Sometimes you just have to play - and the ball will sometimes go in and sometimes it won't.  We want to forget yesterday's game.  We didn't play well and Puerto Rico played very well, and that's always a bad combination.  They have a very good team, one of the best teams here.  We just have to come together and keep playing.

Is it difficult to play with a new point guard?
Joel has been with the team for a while, and he's usually the back up.  I think he's doing a great job.  He's helping out the team and obviously he's out here with the National Team doing well.

What did you tell your team after the game yesterday?
I told them that the most important thing was to go out there and have fun.  Yesterday we were tight, at the Uruguay game we were tight and we let the game get away from us.  I just wanted to make sure today we had fun.  When we're playing good, we're running, we're playing good defense, then we're having fun.  A lot of smiles on the court and that's what you saw today.  Yesterday you didn't see that. 

It seems that the pace at which Panama plays can cause the team to make mistakes; do you think you can play slow?
Because we're probably the smallest team here, we don't really want to play slow too much.  I think we can play slow if we have to.  We have good big guys we can put in, but we'd rather run.  Look at the size of all the teams; we're the smallest team by far.   At the opening ceremony that's the first thing we realized.  We don't have any 7 footers, we have no really tall guys, so we don't really want to slow it down we want to run.  That's why I think Mexico was a good match up for us, because they wanted to run too.  It was a fast-paced and high-scoring game.  If we had to play slow I think it'd be difficult, but I think we can manage.

Do you think the fact that you trained Panama in the past affected this game?
I don't think so.  I think Panama played hard.  I think that the fact that I coached them gives them more incentives to play harder, but you have to give them their credit, they played very well.  We played, but we didn't play as well as we've been playing.  Panama played very well today.  They shot the ball 51%; they scored enough points to win.  If you give up 95 points or more, you shouldn't win.

[Question inaudible]
As I tell my players, of all the time I've coached, they have never lost a game.  I lose games, they win games.  I made the substitution calls and even though I don't shoot a shot or take a charge, I take full responsibility for all losses.  That's why it bothers me so much.  If I can eliminate that part about losing, then I'd feel a lot better.  Winning - they are the winners, losing, it's my fault.

[Question inaudible]
We've been able to implement.  If you look at the stat sheet, which I don't really care about, we committed 30 fouls, and they committed only 17.  As a matter of fact at the end of the ball game, we still weren't shooting the shots.  So they played a foul-free type of game.  If you look at most of the stats from most of our games, we probably shoot more free-throws because we're at the basket and play an up tempo game so that gives you the chance to be at the line more than your opponent.  Today was just the opposite.  I think what hurts us in the ball game is that even though we know what we want to do, the energy level was different.  We had wide open shots and lay ups that just didn't go in.  It's one of those things that whatever you did, it just wasn't there.  This was our 22nd ball game and this was the first time they lost.  So you can't say they don't understand it just wasn't there today.

Does losing ever get easier?
Losing to me is losing and I hate losing more than anything.  The day that I stop hating losing, I don't ever want to coach again.  I have a sign that's always been in my gym, my office, my house that says - there are those who play and those who play to win, and that's me.  And I want players who play to win. 

What happened to you on the court?

We started off strong, but then we let them breathe and think that they could defeat us, and we lost total control.  The Panama team played really well, they converted a lot of shots, and we missed a lot.  They had two on one or three on one, and our shots were just not going in.  They were pressuring us the entire time and they knew how to control the game.

Your qualification is now in danger, how do you feel about that?
We have two games coming up against Argentina and Uruguay and we have to win those games.  We have to work hard.  The worst team stays out so we have to move on and win those games to secure our qualification.

Do you think you were too confident coming into this game after the win against Puerto Rico?
We actually talked about that earlier and our team doctor said he thought we were coming into this too confident.  If we're here we need to recharge our batteries and not think that just by being here, that's enough to win. We defeated Puerto Rico but that's nothing.  We defeated Argentina three times in the World Championship and then we were eliminated and Argentina moved on.  So we talked about that before the game, but I guess it just wasn't our day today.  We weren't converting the shots.  We kept thinking we had time to recover, but then when the time was upon us, it was too late and we couldn't make a come back.


Quotes gathered by Cindy Edman