After watching France get ousted, powerhouse United States vowed to stay humble and hungry entering the final stretch of the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
US coach Steve Kerr said they are determined to win their remaining matches to reclaim the crown that they lost to Spain in the previous edition of this prestigious 32-nation event in 2019 in China.
Kerr, who played under great coaches in Phil Jackson of the Chicago Bulls and Greg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs in the National Basketball Association, said the fate of France should serve as a warning that they should not
take any team lightly.
Despite being powered by NBA players like Rudy Gobert, Nicholas Batum and Evan Fournier, the French bombed out of the tourney after bowing to Canada, 65-95, and Latvia, 86-88, in the preliminaries of Group H in Jakarta.
The United States, meanwhile, are set to coast to the second round after beating New Zealand, 99-72, and Greece, 109-81, in the pool play of Group C.
Still, Kerr wants his team to guard themselves against complacency.
“All of our guys saw the result last night with France. It’s a good reminder to all of us that you just can’t ease up to this tournament. The level of competition is so much better worldwide now than eight years ago,” said Kerr, a four-time NBA
champion coach for the Golden State Warriors.
“There’s a lot of really good talent around the world and a lot of really good coaching. Teams are tough and we’re gonna have to play well for 40 minutes to win.”
Aside from France, Finland also packed its bags while China is on the brink of ouster despite the presence of NBA players.
Lauri Markkanen of the Utah Jazz couldn’t tow Finland past the group stage as they lost to Australia, 72-98, Japan, 88-98, and Germany, 75-101, while Kyle Anderson and the Chinese struggled against Serbia, 63-105, before bouncing back
with an 89-69 win over South Sudan.
The Philippines, which has Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz at the attack zone, is also on the brink of elimination after suffering an 81-87 loss to the Dominican Republic and 70-80 setback against Angola.
Kerr said his coaching staff in Tryonn Lue, Erik Spoelstra and Mark Few are doing a great job scouting their opponents.
“Against Greece, it was Coach Lue’s game. The next game will be Coach Spo’s (Spoelstra). We just assign ourselves certain teams and they do a deep dive during the lead-up to the game,” said Kerr, whose wards will wrap up their first-round campaign with a battle
against Jordan on Wednesday.
“I’m lucky to work with such a great crew and this team is amazing to coach.”