Inamin ni Team USA coach Gregg Popovich na nakikita nitong malaking banta sa pagdepensa ng kanilang titulo sa paparating na FIBA World Cup ang Australia.
Maghaharap sa Biyernes (Manila time) ang dalawang teams sa kanilang unang exhibition game sa Marvel Stadium sa Melbourne.
“Huge, huge threat,” wika ni Popovich tungkol sa Boomers. “They are one of the teams that can win the whole thing, without a doubt. I’m not saying that because I’m here. It’s just a fact.
“They’ve been close for several years, and they are hungry. They are talented. They have the toughness and physicality to go with it. I think they are one of the top contenders without a doubt.”
Ang Australia, na pangungunahan ng bata ni Popovich sa San Antonio Spurs na si Patty Mills, ay nabigo sa bronze medal final noong 2016 Olympics sa kamay ng Spain.
Habang ang US team naman ay kaunti ang superstars sa roster, tampok sina Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton at Brook Lopez na mayroon lamang pinagsama na limang NBA All-Star appearances.
Gayunman, sinabi ni Walker na ginagawa nilang motivation ang natatanggap nilang mga kritisismo bago ang kanilang title defense sa China.
“We don’t care. We want to be here and are putting in the time to be here and we definitely take that as motivation,” ani Walker. “We have a bunch of guys who don’t mind being the underdogs. We are hungry, and we are going to go out there to try and win a gold medal.”
Maghahati rin aniya sila nina Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell at Celtics guard Marcus Smart sa trabaho bilang team captain.
“I take pride in being a leader and guys looking to me and I’m here to set the tempo and bring my experience and energy,” dagdag nito.