FIBA World Cup 2019: Popovich blasts critics after USA finish seventh, Serbia take fifth

By Sports Desk September 14, 2019

Gregg Popovich defended Team USA and hit out at a "ridiculous" lack of respect for other nations at the FIBA World Cup after the reigning champions ended their campaign with an 87-74 victory over Poland.

A significantly weakened US squad - missing a host of star names but still packed with NBA experience - saw their title defence ended by France at the quarter-final stage earlier this week, before also losing to Serbia.

That meant Saturday's triumph at Beijing's Wukesong Sport Arena, in which Donovan Mitchell starred with 16 points and 10 assists, was only enough to secure seventh place for the country that won gold at each of the last two World Cups.

Popovich nevertheless said he was proud of his players' efforts as he firmly rejected some of the criticism that has come the USA's way.

"Some people want to play the blame game, there's no blame to be placed anywhere," the veteran head coach was quoted as saying by ESPN. "They want to play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn't win a gold medal?

"That's a ridiculous attitude. It's immature, it's arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn't respect all the other teams in the world and doesn't respect that these guys did the best they could.

"Their effort was fantastic. You give people credit for what they did, and that's it. But it's not a blame and shame game, that's ridiculous."

Mitchell was one of five players to put up a double-figure points tally in the USA's final game, along with Joe Harris (14), Khris Middleton (13), Derrick White (12) and Harrison Barnes (10). Middleton also contributed six rebounds and half a dozen assists.

Poland, playing their first World Cup since 1967, were paced by Mateusz Ponitka (18 points), Adam Waczynski (17) and A.J. Slaughter (15).

The outcome was decided early with Team USA scoring the game's first 10 points and stretching their lead to 14 by the end of the first quarter.

They led 47-30 at half-time, aided by Poland's inability to hit from three-point range. The underdogs missed their first 13 shots from behind the arc before finally getting one to fall with a minute and 28 seconds to play before the interval.

Poland did rally in the second half, getting as close as seven points with four minutes and seven seconds left in the third quarter, but the Americans responded with a 9-2 run and ran out comfortable winners.

Serbia secured fifth spot with a 90-81 victory over Czech Republic later in the day, Bogdan Bogdanovic the star of the show with 31 points.

Related items

  • Zion Williamson to miss Pelicans' preseason finale due to injury Zion Williamson to miss Pelicans' preseason finale due to injury

    New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson will miss the team's final NBA preseason game with right knee soreness.

    The Pelicans will face the New York Knicks on Friday without young star Williamson, it was announced on Thursday.

    Williamson did not make the trip to New York and will remain in New Orleans to undergo further evaluation.

    In four preseason games for the Pelicans this season, Williamson – the number one draft pick – has averaged 23.3 points.

    The Pelicans open their regular-season campaign against defending champions the Toronto Raptors on October 22.

  • NBA veteran Luol Deng signs with Bulls to retire with team at 34 NBA veteran Luol Deng signs with Bulls to retire with team at 34

    Veteran NBA forward Luol Deng signed with the Chicago Bulls on Thursday in order to retire as a member of the team.

    A two-time All-Star from South Sudan, where he has worked to develop young basketball players, Deng was taken seventh overall by the Bulls in the 2004 NBA Draft.

    "He was a role model on and off the court during his nine-plus years in Chicago, and he gave everything he had to help us win," Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf said in a statement.

    "I want to thank Luol for not only what he accomplished on the court for the team, but also for the leadership he demonstrated through his philanthropic efforts."

    In 902 NBA games over 15 seasons with the Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves he averaged 14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 34.3 minutes per game.

    The 34-year-old averaged 15.9 points and 6.7 rebounds in 62 playoff games in seven postseasons, six with Chicago and one with Miami.

    John Paxson, Bulls executive VP of basketball operations, said Deng would be remembered for "the fierce competitiveness he brought to both ends of the floor every night."

    Deng ranks in the top five on the Bulls all-time list for minutes (fifth, 22,882), points (fourth, 10,286), field goals made (fifth, 3,987) and attempted (fifth, 8,675) and steals (fifth, 639).

    He led the Bulls in scoring in 2011-12 (15.3 ppg) and 2012-13 (16.5 ppg).

    The Bulls will honour Deng at a game to be determined later this season.

  • This Week in US Sports: Nationals make first World Series, Ramsey has a new home This Week in US Sports: Nationals make first World Series, Ramsey has a new home

    There will be a World Series game in Washington D.C. for the first time since 1933.

    Two quarterbacks are heading to the bench and Jalen Ramsey has finally been dealt.

    While all of that has been going on there has been some monetary proposals in the NBA.

    All that and more on this week in US Sports.

     

    1. Nationals earn first World Series berth

    It was a historic week in Washington D.C. after the Nationals swept the St Louis Cardinals in four games to earn the first World Series berth in Nationals/Expos history.

    The Nationals were the 29th team to make the Fall Classic, leaving the Seattle Mariners as the only organisation to not have been to one.

    While this is a big day for this franchise, it is also one for some very loyal Washington D.C. fans as this will be the first World Series played in D.C. since 1933 when the Senators faced the Giants and lost in five games.

    The Senators moved to Minnesota in 1961 and became the Twins.

     

    2. Quarterbacks head to the bench

    The Marcus Mariota era may be over in Tennessee, while the Josh Rosen era in Miami is at least on hold.

    The Tennessee Titans announced this week that Mariota will be replaced under center by Ryan Tannehill going forward. The Miami Dolphins also announced Rosen will once again be on the bench and replaced by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    Rosen is still young having been taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft so he has some time to still find his way, but Mariota is bordering on being a veteran at this point, so this very well might be the end of his career as a starter.

     

    3. Ramsey on the move

    Ramsey finally got his wish this week as he was traded by the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Los Angeles Rams for first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 and a fourth-round pick in 2021.

    This came on the heels of the Rams' trade of Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens earlier in the day.

    Ramsey asked to be traded by the Jaguars after a Week 2 spat with head coach Doug Marrone.

    He got his wish and is thrilled to be playing for a NFL Super Bowl contender.

     

    4. NBA contracts being weighed and measured

    It is that time of year where players and teams figure out what they will be paid or what can be afforded, and Wednesday, several reports came out that players have been given some offers.

    Pascal Siakam is weighing an extension with the Toronto Raptors, as is Bogdan Bogdanovic with the Sacramento Kings, but Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown turned down a four-year, $80million extension which came as a surprise to some.

    At the same time, the Kings have apparently not offered guard Buddy Hield an extension and he may be open to a trade if they do not give him the money he is looking for.

    The NBA season starts next week, but there is still plenty to be decided going forward.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.