As Team USA is preparing to face the FIBA World Cup, which is set to start this weekend in Asia, they are also finding the time to enjoy themselves in Abu Dhabi before they set course for Manila. This Tuesdasy, many players and staff took the day off and enjoyed the sites along with their family members.
“I had to see the mosque,” said head coach Steve Kerr after visiting the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. “It looks amazing.”
As for Austin Reaves, who also brought his family along for the ride, simply can’t believe he has so many fans in this part of the world and appreciates every second of it.
Members of the #USABMNT visited the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque this afternoon in Abu Dhabi. We learned so much & thank the guides & staff who welcomed us to this beautiful place. pic.twitter.com/fe80JXVNfg
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) August 21, 2023
“I was with my family and I was walking through the hotel and someone’s screaming ‘Austin, can I take a picture?’” the Lakers guard said. “For that to happen over here, it’s special to me. I never take any of that for granted. Anytime I can try to sign anything for anybody, I try to sign everything. For me, it’s special. It’s something one day I will look back at and smile about.”
Believe it or not, two U.S. players had never stepped a foot overseas, and are soaking in this experience like never before. We are talking about Utah’s rising star Walker Kessler and Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, who is grateful about all the opportunities the sport has given to him.
“I get paid a lot of money to play a child’s game and I get a lot of opportunities that people would kill for just because I’m good at a sport,” the Indiana star acknowledged. “Sometimes perspective matters. I brought my mom and dad and my girlfriend. My mom and dad have never been to any of these places. Probably dreamed of traveling like this. Now they get to do that and watch their son play basketball? It’s such a blessing that a ball can take you to these places.”
On the other hand, Team USA forward Bobby Portis had already been to Abu Dhabi last year when he flew with the Bucks to play a preseason game against the Atlanta Hawks. This time, he brought his family to enjoy it with him.
“I had to bring them on this journey,” the Milwaukee player said. “They keep me going.”
Kerr says that the vacation time is now over and it’s time to focus on bringing back the gold medal to the United States
Now that the squad had a couple of days to rest before embarking to the Philippines, coach Steve Kerr is the first to understand that the vacation is over and the World Cup is finally here.
“I know everyone’s going to be focused on who wins, and obviously we are — we desperately want to win,” the Warriors trainer said. “But this is an incredible experience, too, for our players, our coaches, our families to see the world, to really experience competition at the highest form all over the globe. What an experience. I think our guys are loving it.”
Take a look at the video above as Team USA beat Germany by a 8-point margin in their final preseason game.
“These guys are all people who want the experience and want the competition but also want to win a gold medal and want to be part of something special,” Kerr stated. “That’s why they’re here.”