BASKETBALL

Popovich in heated exchange with reporter after US defeat to Australia

US men's basketball coach Gregg Popovich took aim at a reporter over his questioning following his team's loss to Australia.

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Popovich in heated exchange with reporter after US defeat to Australia

Team USA men’s basketball coach Gregg Popovich was involved in a heated exchange with a reporter in the press conference after the US lost to Australia in a warm-up game before the Tokyo Olympics.

Popovich’s team were handed their second straight defeat by The Boomers after losing to Nigeria on Saturday, marking the first time the US has lost back-to-back exhibition games since professionals began playing in 1992. Those two defeats bring Popovich’s record to 9-5 since he took over the US team in 2016.

Popovich takes aim at reporter after US defeat

The testy exchange began after the reporter asked player Damian Lillard a question in which he claimed that the US used to “blow these teams out” in the past. Following Lillard’s answer, a frustrated Popovich intervened to pull the reporter up on his question.

“Let me also answer that question. You know you’ve asked the same sort of question, the same family of question last time, where you assume things that are not true. When you mention blowing these teams out, that’s never happened. So I don’t know where you get that,” Popovich said.

As the reporter tried to argue his case, Popovich asked repeatedly to be allowed to finish his statement and was eventually able to do so. And in it, he took aim at the reporter’s questioning once again.

"So you be quiet now and then I’ll listen to you. When you make statements about in the past, just blowing out these other teams … number one you give no respect to the other teams. I talked to you last time about the same thing. We’ve had very close games against four or five countries in all these tournaments.

“So, the good teams do not get blown out. There are certain games it might happen in one of the tournaments, world championships and Olympics when somebody gets blown out but in general, nobody is blowing anybody out for the good teams. So, when you make a statement like that it’s like you assume that’s what’s going on and that’s incorrect."

Three more tune-up games for US ahead of Olympics

Popovich will now turn his focus to the three remaining matches ahead of Tokyo: Argentina on July 13 (3 p.m. PDT); Australia for a second time on July 16 (3 p.m. PDT); and Spain on July 18 (6 p.m. PDT).

The pressure will be on the San Antonio Spurs coach to deliver at the Olympics after the disappointment that was the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, in which the US finished in seventh place, its worst finish ever in international competition.