By: Sam Meyerkopf / @HoopLikeDrazen
For the next week my home is on the island of Gran Canaria, the of the Basketball World Cup’s Group D. I will post notes, stories, and insight from my time at in Las Palmas. If you want more information about anything specific please hit me up on Twitter, I’ll be on there all week.
In case you missed my dairy from first day of play: 1st Diario
Mexico came into the tournament looking like the clear favorite to get the fourth seed and advance to the elimination round. But there draw was the worst of any team in the group, having to play the two best teams, Slovenia and Lithuania, in their first two games. These games were broadcast on national TV on the weekend in Mexico and the losses hurt the momentum the team has built the last two summer winning FIBA Americas and Centrobasket Championships. Today (Tuesday) Mexico face off against Angola in basically an elimination game for Group D.
Mexico has been plagued by the same problem in both of their losses, lack of depth. They hung with both Slovenia and Lithuania until about mid way through the third quarter and then the opponent took off. Mexico relies heavily on three players, center Gustavo Ayon, point guard Jorge Gutierrez, and shooting guard Paco Cruz. Gutierrez has been the least consistent of the three and they really need him to not only play well on defense but be much more of a playmaker on offense. Ayon needs to stay out of foul trouble because when he’s in the game, few big men can stop him from scoring in the paint. Cruz has been their most consistent force so far and one of the best scorers here in Gran Canaria. So the pieces are there but can the supporting players give them a little bit more and can the team as a whole play better? Angola has worse top level talent but is a team that a plays better than the sum of it’s parts. We should be in for a good one today.
Joe Ingles On Playing for Australia
“It’s a bit different. Barcelona is 12 of the greatest players in Europe and playing with these guys is like playing with my family. You go into scene you don’t know guys, we come back every year and the guys commit to playing because we love playing with each other. It’s a whole different kind of mindset really but one is more of job and one is more the love of playing for your country.” - Joe Ingles
Goran Dragic on Zoran, Slovenia’s Offense, and the World Cup
On being a Leader
“I’m used to it, all the guys are great guys. We have a young team. Last year was different because Jaka Lakovic and Bostjan Nachbar were here and they are mainly two older guys. But the guys here listen to me, they listen to coach.”
On Slovenian fans
“I feel great when we play at home, especially last year at the European Championships it was great. But even here, it doesn’t matter if we play outside (Slovenia), whichever country they are always going to come support us. That means something, that means a lot to me and to my team. And it’s much easier to play like that.”
On Slovenia’s offensive success
“We have a lot of outside shooters and outside guys who can play. Our main two big guys are a little bit light but they can run, they can set screens and roll. In most of those situations they are going to pick and pop. And you know it’s a lot of open space, especially in the middle of the paint and we can attack.”
On playing with his brother Zoran
“It’s great. I miss him a lot, he’s in Spain and I’m in USA but you know we talk a lot by Skype or phone but it’s not the same. Now we have a perfect situation here to be together, we are in the same room so we can talk. You know it’s my brother, I love him so much and he is playing well so I’m happy.
“Defense we can improve especially some situations where we don’t communicate and give up an easy basket. I think if we are going to correct those things we are going to be tough to beat.”