VILNIUS (Global Games | FIBA U19 World Championship) – Despite the second massive loss in three days, Joe Jackson still thinks that USA will be the team to beat in the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship which starts on Thursday.
The point guard admits that there are some issues that need to be worked on and things that the US players need to adjust to, but he’s confident that it will come with time.
However, the biggest question is whether there is enough time, as Team USA has been assembled from a new group of players who haven’t played with each other and had only two tune-up games leading up to the World Championship with Tuesday’s game against the Lithuanian U19 squad ending in a massive 75-108 defeat.
We caught up with the Jackson to discuss about what lies ahead for the USA team and what needs to be changed in the side’s game.
FIBA: Everyone thought of you as the team to beat, has these two losses changed anything?
Jackson: I feel like we still are the team to beat. It’s just our first time playing together as a group and generally it’s a different style of play out here. These guys can ball. We’ve got to make some adjustments and we’ll be ready.
FIBA: What is it that you need to adjust to?
Jackson: It’s just certain things you can do here that you can’t do in the US. Not that I would like to talk about the refs, some calls were very weird tonight. We drive to the basket, get fouled, but there’s no whistle. They drive half way if we touch them, we referees call a foul. We just need to play through all of that, make more shots, talk more on defense and we’ll be alright.
FIBA: Do you know anything about your group opponents?
Jackson: I couldn’t tell you the name of one person from the teams that will be in the World Championship. The coach just gives us a scouting report for the games, we look at it. He tells us whether they can shoot the ball, how tall they are, what they can do in the paint, left or right handed and we just go from there.
FIBA: You mentioned that you feel like you still are the team to beat…
Jackson: I don’t want to be arrogant or anything, but I know that we’re a good team. I’m not going to shoot at my team because of a couple of losses. These are some of the top players in America, so if we get together, become more focused and player better defense and just play through all of the stuff that goes on over here, we’ll be alright.
FIBA: If you were to meet Lithuania in the final, do you feel like you can beat them?
Jackson: I’m not going to say we’re going to beat them. I’m sure we can beat them if we come out with the right game plan and we play hard enough, match their intensity. It’s just a different style of play for us, they played really fast. Both teams scored a hundred points against us. It’s a faster pace. And we’ve just got to play better defense and make some stops, as well as rebound the ball better.