“It’s as much about maybe who we don’t want as much as who we want,” Colangelo said in reference to selecting a roster for the Olympics.
After Team USA lost back-to-back games against France and Serbia in the FIBA World Cup, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo made it known he’s unhappy with those who withdrew from the tournament this summer.
Colangelo hinted that there will be some hard feelings against those who backed out of playing in the 2019 tournament when the time comes to start putting together the roster for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I can only say, you can’t help but notice and remember who you thought you were going to war with and who didn’t show up,” Colangelo told reporters Thursday (via The Associated Press). “I’m a firm believer that you deal with the cards you’re dealt. All we could have done, and we did it, is get the commitments from a lot of players. So with that kind of a hand you feel reasonably confident that you’re going to be able to put a very good representative team on the court.
“No one would have anticipated the pullouts that we had.”
Only four out of 35 players initially invited to represent Team USA in the World Cup actually played in China. Many NBA superstars opted to sit out the tournament in an unprecedented move that left Colangelo and the rest of USA Basketball scrambling to fill roster spots. The Associated Press notes only two of the players on the World Cup roster were NBA All-Stars last season.
“We’re going to let the dust settle, let things depress a little bit,” Colangelo said. “Obviously I’m always thinking ahead, which means what’s going to take place, and it’s going to happen fast and soon because we just have to get our act together for the Olympics.”
The Americans lost 94-89 to Serbia on Thursday, a day after falling 89-79 to France. The two losses marked the first time the Americans have lost back-to-back games with NBA players since 2002. Team USA now faces a seventh-place game Saturday against Poland, and regardless of the outcome, the U.S. will go home with the worst tournament showing in program history. It previously finished sixth at the 2002 world championships.
“Going forward for USA Basketball, we’re going to need the cooperation of teams, agents and then there has to be communication with players one-on-one to solidify those commitments,” Colangelo said. “I am going to be anxious to see how many players reach out early to indicate that they wish and want and desire to play.
“But I’ll make this statement: It’s as much about maybe who we don’t want as much as who we want.”