United States forward Kenneth Faried wasted no time voicing the consensus in regards to the final of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, saying he was “disappointed” it won’t be Spain in the Americans’ way of a gold medal.
After the US handily beat Lithuania 96-68 in the semi-finals, Faried wasn’t surprised the hosts had fallen to France in their quarter-final matchup, but admitted he would have rather faced Spain on their home turf.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Faried said. “There was too much hype around them. It was arrogant, borderline disrespectful to us, saying they’re better than us, we’re not going to be able to match up with their bigs and all this other arrogant stuff. I just took it as, ‘okay, alright. Once we meet them in the final we’ll see what happens.’ We can’t even see what happens.
“I am disappointed. I wanted to beat them in their own country.”
A US-Spain final was appearing imminent after both teams coasted through group play with an unbeaten 5-0 record and then notched blowout victories in their first knockout stage game. France, however, flipped the script and shocked the second-ranked FIBA nation to set up a meeting with Serbia in the semi-finals.
With Spain featuring several notable NBA players, including Marc and Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Ricky Rubio, a meeting with the US to decide the World Cup was considered a dream match-up.
After seeing a number of players drop out of the roster during the summer, including big men Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Americans’ lack of frontcourt depth was considered a vulnerability against the likes of Spain.
Now, that potential challenge is off the board.
“I think that’s one of the reasons why we came over here, was to play them,” US guard Derrick Rose said. “Too bad we’re not playing them and hopefully we go out there in our next game and play hard and just know that we’re there for a reason.”
Other players on the American roster were unwilling to echo Faried’s sentiments, sticking to coach Mike Krzyzewski’s humble approach.
“Kenneth is crazy,” James Har-den said when told of Faried’s comments. “He’s crazy.”
Added guard Kyrie Irving: “Obviously everybody wanted to see us play Spain, but we’re not. So those questions can go out the window.”
Regardless of opponent, the US remain heavy favourites and the team to beat in tomorrow’s gold medal game.
“We’re just happy to take care of our business, which we set out to do, and make it to the finals,” said Stephen Curry. “Whoever matches up against us Sunday we’ll be ready for them.”
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