First-time US coach feels heat
Five-time NBA championshipwinning coach Gregg Popovich admits he is feeling the pressure of leading the US for the first time ahead of this year’s World Cup in China.
The Americans announced a 20-man squad yesterday which will be trimmed to 12 after a selection camp in Las Vegas which runs from August 5-9.
They will then travel to Australia to play two matches against the Boomers at Marvel Stadium before completing their preparations with one match against Canada in Sydney.
The American squad includes seven 2019 NBA All-Stars but LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are among the notable absentees.
The US won the 2014 and 2010 World Cups plus six of the past seven Olympic gold medals.
Popovich is coaching his country for the first time and has already started analysing prospective opponents.
“I’m a human being. I feel the pressure,” Popovich said.
“I’ve watched all the games for the last 12 years. Some have been close, some have been blow-outs. “It’s the way sport is.
“As a coach, you’re a little bit of a paranoid person in some respects because you know things could go one way or the other.
“From my perspective, a 40minute game is very different from a 48-minute NBA game.
“I know we have to play very well, play from the beginning of the game to the end of the game to secure a victory.
“The pressure is there. “I definitely feel it. If I didn’t, that would be a problem.”
Australia will host Canada in two games at RAC Arena on August 16 and 17, giving them an opportunity to prepare for the blockbusters against the US.
The Boomers have selected their strongest squad in history, featuring NBA players Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills, who Popovich coaches at San Antonio.
Kevin Durant limps off, consoled by opponent Kyle Lowry.