This year’s United States FIBA World Cup team is not the most exciting group ever, with many fans questioning whether it can get the job done.
Members of Team USA are speaking up about America’s lack of faith and are confident they can bring the U.S. its sixth straight gold medal in Olympic and World Cup competitions.
“It’s like they picked us up off the street,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum told The Undefeated at camp when addressing speculation the U.S. might not win it all. “We’re NBA players. We’re pretty good at what we do. It’s added a chip on our shoulder, and we’re going to take it with us.”
NBA stars such as James Harden, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis elected early on not to participate in the 2019 tournament, set to begin Aug. 31 in China. This certainly made a team usually stacked with All-NBA talent look less appealing on paper, and players continued to drop like flies as the final roster was being determined.
Rockets forward P.J. Tucker left camp with an ankle injury last week while Kings guard De’Aaron Fox decided he’d rather focus on the upcoming NBA season following Team USA’s 90-81 exhibition win over Spain, the second-ranked team in this year’s World Cup.
The team’s only All-NBA performer, Kemba Walker, says the squad is “hungry” to be successful though, despite the doubts.
Kings forward Harrison Barnes is the lone survivor from the U.S.’s 2016 gold-medal squad and claims Team USA isn’t listening to what skeptics have to say.
“We hear the noise,” Barnes said. “It’s about just us, getting better, continuing to grow closer on and off the floor, and we’ll go from there.
“We’re motivated more than anything to keep the gold standard going, by the teams that went before us that went and won the World Cup, that went and won the Olympics multiple times. That’s what we’re chasing right now.”
The U.S. will face Australia Thursday (Friday in Manila) in its second international exhibition game of the summer.