Steve Kerr doesn’t care about Paris.
The National Basketball Association champion player and decorated coach said it is Manila that he is obsessed with.
When told that the United States has been assured of a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics with the FIBA World Cup still in play, Kerr said it has got nothing to do with his ongoing job.
“It doesn’t ease the pain of the loss that we had tonight. But for USA Basketball, it is a good thing not to have to go through qualifying, anything further. You don’t have to worry about anything else,” said the former member of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and current coach of the Golden State Warriors.
Kerr insists the Olympics is not the driving force behind his mission in Manila.
“To be honest, I am not worried about the Olympics. I am worried about this. We want to win the World Cup. That’s our focus,” said Kerr after Lithuania dealt the Americans a stinging 110-104 loss late Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Getting it done, however, would entail more than sheer talent from his
all-National Basketball Association team.
Against Lithuania, the Americans were forced to go to school.
“We were on our heels that whole first half and they were carving us up and we definitely had miscommunications but we improved in the second half and started playing a lot harder,” he said.
While the US stormed back in the second half, the Lithuanians had gotten off to a scorching start that it had become extremely difficult for them to catch up.
Kerr said the think tank would go over the game in the hopes of averting another slow start in their last three games.
“We will learn from this and we have a great tape to watch and see the things we need to improve on,” he said.
The Americans, actually, didn’t hand the game on a silver platter.
“I loved the way our guys fought back, played much better in the second half. Competed like crazy. Gave them a good run but it wasn’t enough.”
On that night, the Lithuanians were just hard to beat, showcasing terrific teamwork that was reminiscent of the late 1980s when the world began beating the Americans on their own game.
They rained nine triples in the first half without missing even once and displayed their excellent ball rotation that resulted in some players getting easy looks from long range and others driving to the hoop with ease for layups and dunks as though they were doing a pre-game shootaround.
Still, Kerr swore the Americans were competitive and played to win.
“It was not a case of us not being ready. It was just a case of them playing a perfect first quarter and us understanding how hard we are going to play to accomplish our goal.”
“Lithuania is a brilliant basketball team. They move, they shoot, they cut hard and are really well-coached. It was good for us. I hate losing. But I probably won’t sleep much tonight. But for us to get better, we need to feel this.”