With the FIBA Basketball World Cup just a day away, the majority views that the pressure is starting to finally get triggered for the United States by being the favorites to win it all.
But for national team’s captain Jalen Brunson, the word “pressure” isn’t something that just can be thrown easily at their side.
“For me personally, there’s no such thing as pressure. I figured out that as long as I continually working hard on my game, putting everything I can on what I do and my craft, there’s no such thing as pressure,” Brunson said during the American squad’s introductory press conference ahead of the World Cup.
” … I think for the team, we’re going to rely on each other. Moments like that happen, and so we’re all we got and then that’s all we can worry about.”
The United States are stepping within the World Cup stage looking to redeem itself from a humiliating exit four years ago when their national squad suffered from its tournament-worst Top 7 finish in China. The Americans have shockingly fallen down to their knees as early as the quarterfinal round of the Final Phase and were sent home prematurely by the mighty French troop.
Head coach Steve Kerr understands the bold mission that they have to complete upon landing in Manila to start the festivities. But he believes that amid the public expectation, they need to openly welcome the probable outcomes that may arise.
“Pressure is sort of what you make of it. And to me, we all love what we do. I love coaching, I love the weight or the pressure or however you want to describe it of competition, and part of being a competitor is embracing that you can lose,” Kerr said, who took over as the newest mentor of the United States’ senior men’s basketball program. “That’s the whole point of competing – there’s winning and there’s losing.
“And what goes in to that is the effort, approach, and chemistry. I love being a part of the team, I love doing what we’re doing right now, trying to build something, and have something at stake.”
Regardless of the impending results, Kerr advocates that they’ll still leave the tournament with their heads held high knowing that they placed the fullest extent of the fruits of their labor from nearly a month of preparations and unblemished exhibition slate.
“The beauty of sports is that nobody’s going to die. We’re going to compete, we’re going to try to win a gold medal. If we dont, we understand that there would be plenty of criticism and we’re okay with that,” Kerr added. “But our approach is incredibly fun. We’re unbelievably fortunate to be able to do this and to compete and look back on this for the rest of our lives and know that we did everything we could.
“Like I said, we’re putting in the effort and we want to win. But whatever happens, happens – and we live with that and that’s part of competition.”
The Americans will open up their road towards FIBA Championship against New Zealand on Aug. 26.