US players learning differences between Olympic hoops, NBA – KIRO 7 News Seattle

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TOKYO – (AP) – The U.S. men’s basketball team was about to begin its final warm-up for the Tokyo Olympics in Las Vegas a few days ago, and Spaniard Ricky Rubio was in a pre-game conversation with American security guard Zach LaVine.

Rubio has well over a decade of international gaming experience. LaVine has a couple of weeks.

“It’s different,” LaVine said to Rubio.

Rubio nodded. LaVine wasn’t wrong.

The rims are 10 feet high and much of the course looks just like American NBA players are used to, but the nuances of the international game – the Olympic Games – are very different. Quarters are 10 minutes instead of 12 minutes, the games run faster with fewer time outs, the 3-point line is narrower, the physicality is higher and a lot of what happens in defense according to the FIBA ​​rules just doesn’t run into it NBA.

“I mean, it’s basketball, but it’s a little different,” said Rubio. “Apart from that, it’s not just the rules, but also the role they play in the team. You might have a shot or two in the first quarter while you typically have five or six in the first five minutes of the game and you need to be prepared for that. There are many hand checks; it is called differently in the NBA than in the FIBA. There is a lot of physicality. I will say it is played differently. “

And as US coach Gregg Popovich has often emphasized – first when he coached the Americans at the basketball world championship two years ago and now in the run-up to the Tokyo Games – that many of the teams have been together at the Olympic Games and know each other with the various rules.

He has preached about this with this group many times, particularly the element of a 40-minute game against the 48-minute variant of the NBA.

“You can’t have a bad quarter,” said Popovich. “You can do that in the NBA. But those last eight minutes are really important. Sometimes talent takes over in the last eight minutes. But in a 40-minute game, there is much less possession of the ball. Your sales become more important. … in some ways it’s more of an NCAA single thing than an NBA playoff, and you may have a second game badly, but you can come back for the third game and fourth game and so on and so on and on.

“It’s a matter of extreme concentration, expecting nothing, asking for nothing and being very, very serious from the start.”

Perhaps out of habit, some players on the US team pleaded for goalkeeping against Nigeria’s Chimezie Metu in the Americans’ first exhibition game in Las Vegas. Kevin Durant took a free throw for the US, and when his second shot hit the edge, Metu reached up and tossed it away. He’s a goalkeeper in the NBA, but legal under FIBA ​​rules.

And US striker Keldon Johnson seemed a bit surprised when he conceded his fifth foul in the game against Spain and learned that he had fouled. In the NBA, the sixth foul puts someone on the bench for the rest of the evening; in FIBA ​​it only takes five.

“As the game progresses, as we continue this process, we will find out the difference between the international game and the game we play,” said US security guard Damian Lillard. “There were moments when we all looked around and asked, ‘What’s going on?’ We learn on the fly. “

Zone defense is a big part of the international game; NBA teams also play Zone, but with the twist that the 3-second defensive rule still applies. This rule is not in the FIBA ​​book, so teams can pack the color for all defensive possession if necessary.

There are other minor differences too, such as how backcourt fouls are whistled and what makes a trip.

“Everyone learns,” said Nigerian coach Mike Brown. “Including me.”

What Americans are learning is that Rubio was right. The game is the same – just very different.

“I think the different rules will be an adjustment,” said US striker Jerami Grant. “But that’s what we’re working on here right now. We have a great group of guys, certainly a talented group of guys, and we learn pretty quickly. “

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