Gregg Popovich entered the first Team USA practice focused.
He was focused on the responsibilities of upholding the US’s legacy at the FIBA World Cup as the team’s head coach, but more importantly on the players who showed up Monday.
The Team USA roster has lost some big names in the last couple of weeks, but that didn’t seem to worry Popovich.
“It’s our responsibility to not only be the best team we can be but also conduct ourselves with the USA on our shirt, we’re representing a lot of people,” Popovich said, via ESPN. “We have a huge responsibility, not only for the country, to do this in a classy manner, but to continue the success that USA basketball has had over the last 12 years.”
The Americans are chasing their third consecutive World Cup championship.
There are a few late additions that could bolster these hopes. Kings star De’Aaron Fox has reportedly been elevated from the Select Squad and the Nets’ Joe Harris was added to the Select roster before the start of USA Basketball’s workouts in Las Vegas.
“All I care about is who’s here,” Popovich said. “I’ve got a fine group of guys and we’re going to get the best possible team we can. … This is the most satisfying form of putting a bunch of guys together and them have empathy and love for each other to form the kind of team they’re going to have to have to beat some really good European teams.”
The men’s team also has a lot of inspiration to pull from.
“I watched the women’s World Cup team win the World Cup and it was inspiring,” said Steve Kerr, who is serving as the team’s assistant coach. “To me, that’s what sports are about, the competition and the unity. Bringing out this great spirit and energy with the fans. We have a chance to do something that is very positive and unifying.”
The final roster will be announced Aug. 17 after two weeks of practice and scrimmages.
Afterward, the team will embark on a pre-tournament tour in Australia and then the play in the World Cup in China from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.