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Team US’ tumble

September 14, 2019

Filipinos have had a rough time in the FIBA World Cup 2019. While we have our own issues to settle, the Americans are not that well-off. They have suffered two losses, and for Team USA, that is already considered as a tragedy.

In a similar response to that of Coach Yeng Guiao, Team USA Head Coach Gregg Popovich has praised his players for their efforts. It should be noted that with the amount of withdrawals from the team, Pop almost struggled to complete his roster.

For the Americans who have a wealth of talent, what should be blamed for their debacle at the World Cup?

The massive withdrawals

The original pool of players for Team USA for the World Cup was not earth-shattering, since they did not have LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard or Steph Curry, the game’s current titans.

However, it did have Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Kevin Love and CJ McCollum and Bradley Beal. Adding even just two of these players would have altered Team USA considerably.

These are just the withdrawals, not those who got injured along the way, since they were willing to participate but was unfortunately struck by the injury bug. Kyle Kuzma was supposed to be the part of the last cut but he also got hurt, and Jayson Tatum could not be utilized in the games that mattered.

Why did these players withdraw? If one would notice, some of them might not be eager to have their games exposed. The reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo actually struggled, because his tendency to use his big strides to overpower defenders ended up in charging fouls.

His biggest MVP rival, James Harden, is notoriously dependent on 50/50 calls. While he is greatly skilled and one of the most gifted offensive players we have ever seen, he might not be so imposing under FIBA rules. Why would he place himself under unwanted scrutiny?

The public is easily swayed by recency bias, and now we have Harden taking shots at Giannis, questioning why he was chosen MVP. Part of that maybe Giannis’ underwhelming performance at the World Cup, something that Harden escaped. Of course, the Greek Freak is the overwhelming star of the Hellas team, so he didn’t really have a choice like The Beard did.

CJ McCollum’s honest assessment

The initial spate of withdrawals snowballed into even more star players choosing to leave, and Cj McCollum of the Portland Trailblazers, whose shooting would have definitely helped the Americans, gave a very candid response.

His noted that if the stars withdraw, Team US would have to struggle and place a bigger workload on the other players. Instead of just participating in blowouts, they have to really compete, sometimes with fellow NBA players. That will eventually catch up with you when your team takes on an extended playoff run after the NBA regular season guide.

CJ reasoned that the possibility of losing increased with every withdrawal, and if you stayed on the team, you would have a dubious distinction of being part of a team that failed.

His words were prophetic, as Team US saw extended minutes for players like Joe Harris and Derrick White. While that would be a boost for their popularity, it doesn’t really translate into an improved NBA career (see Kenneth Faried after starring in the 2014 World Cup, struggling to sign a contract in this year’s offseason).

Overconfidence

Talent is never a problem for Team US. However, since they continue to revere the Olympics, some of them never bothered with the World Cup. Part of this dismissive attitude is due to the lack of respect towards international basketball.

The superstars believe that the USA will win this no matter what. “Nah, the other guys can take care of that” was the official statement of the Load Management All-Stars. With Kawhi Leonard’s success after taking the summer and a few more games off, the value of ample rest became apparent.

It’s possible that the players do take the Team USA mantle seriously, but they thought anyone else could take care of business — until they fail.

Another person to blame — who snubbed Carmelo Anthony’s request to join?

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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