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2023 FIBA World Cup

Jalen Brunson emphasizes unity, victory as top priorities for Team USA

The perennial question for teams brimming with talented players has always been this: Will it all come together?

This inquiry has consistently accompanied the USA National Team in every FIBA Basketball World Cup they have participated in, and the 2023 edition in the Philippines is no exception.

The USA, home to numerous NBA superstars, has perennially stood as one of the favorites to seize the championship, yet their journey has been punctuated by heartbreaks.

In the 2019 World Cup, this global powerhouse settled for a disappointing seventh place among the 32-team field after succumbing to France in the quarterfinals. Consequently, the upcoming tournament holds the promise of redemption.

Despite the fact that the majority of the 12 USA players serve as starters for their respective NBA teams, team captain Jalen Brunson expressed that they are completely focused on a single objective: regaining the gold medal.

“We have a lot of guys who come from different situations and play different styles of basketball but here, ego is left on the door and we just wanna win and that’s the most important thing on our mind,” said the New York Knicks star on Thursday during the pre-event press conference.

Leading the charge for the USA squad are rising stars Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, and Paolo Banchero, alongside veterans Brunson and Brandon Ingram.

Also included in the team roster are Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson from Brooklyn, Josh Hart from New York, Jaren Jackson Jr. from Memphis, Walker Kessler from Utah, Bobby Portis from Milwaukee, and Austin Reaves from the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Brunson acknowledges the substantial wealth of talent within their team, and he offers assurance that this will not pose a problem.

“I think for the most part guys are smart. We all have one common goal which is to win and so when it comes to roles, we have figured a way to kind of understand what the team needs in any given time,” said Brunson.

“I think for us roles can change any given night and the guys just wanna win, the guys just wanna put each other in positions where we can be successful and so we have a talented group, we have a smart group.”

Despite the entire nation yearning for Brunson and his team to reclaim the championship lost four years prior, he articulates that they don’t feel burdened by pressure.

Nonetheless, Brunson underscores that even though they don’t sense external pressure, they remain cognizant of the stakes and the tasks that lie ahead.

The USA’s campaign will commence on Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena against New Zealand, followed by matches against Greece and Jordan on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.

“For me personally, there’s no such thing as pressure. I’ve figured out that as long as I continue working hard on my game, putting everything I can to what I do, my craft, there’s no such thing as pressure,” said Brunson, who had a career year last season in the NBA with averages of 24.0 points and 6.2 assists.

“There are different moments, there are situations where the stakes are higher than the others but my confidence comes from my work ethic so as long as I keep working hard and knowing that I’m doing something to get better, there’s no pressure,” he continued.

“I think for the team, we’re gonna rely on each other when moments like that happen. We’re all we got and that’s all we can worry about.”

Written By

Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.

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