The United States men’s basketball team was preparing to face Spain in its last game to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics a few years ago in Las Vegas, and Spanish Ricky Rubio was chatting with American point guard Zach LaVine before the match.
Rubio has more than a decade of experience in the international fair. LaVine is only a few weeks old.
“This is different,” LaVine told Rubio.
Rubio nodded. LaVine was right.
The hoops are 10 feet taller and most of the floor looks the same as the one American NBA players often play on, but the niceties of international basketball – an Olympic sport – are very different. It is played in four periods of 10 minutes each instead of 12, the games develop more quickly and there are fewer timeouts, the triple line is closer to the basket, the level of physical duels is higher and much of what happens on defense under FIBA regulations just doesn’t fit the NBA.
“I mean, it’s basketball but it’s a little different,” Rubio said. “That being said, it’s not just the rules, it’s also the role he has on the team. Maybe you’ve made a field goal or two in the first quarter when you usually have like five or six in the first five minutes of the game, and you have to be ready for that. There is a lot of defensive brand; he scores differently in the NBA than in the FIBA. There is a lot of physical contact. I would say that it is played differently ”.
And Gregg Popovich, who manages the US national team, has pointed out many times – first when he coached the United States at the Basketball World Cup a couple of years ago and now at the Tokyo Games – that many of the Olympic teams have more time together. and they are more familiar with the rules.