NEW YORK -- Despite not getting any playing time in Team USA’s 105-62 blowout exhibition victory over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, Brooklyn Nets big man Mason Plumlee remains confident that he is going to make the World Cup-bound squad.
And why shouldn’t he?
After all, Plumlee has made the most of his opportunity since he was promoted from the Select Team in Las Vegas, impressing in both practices and games.
“It is [nerve-wracking],” Plumlee said. “But it’s been such a long period of time. I was nervous in Vegas, but at this point, I’m just gonna show up, play my game, do what I can do.
“I feel very good about how I’ve played ... so I’m very confident with where I stand.”
Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said they wanted to get a look at fellow reserve big man Andre Drummond on Wednesday night, which meant Plumlee would have to sit out. Coach K added that there will be no cuts before Friday night’s exhibition game against Puerto Rico at MSG. Sixteen players are currently vying for 12 spots.
“Some guys didn’t play in Chicago, and then some guys didn’t play here, so I was just one of those guys,” said Plumlee, who had nine points, four rebounds and three steals in 15 minutes off the bench in Saturday’s 95-78 exhibition victory over Brazil. “I’m not looking too much into it. I feel like I’ve had a strong body of work since Vegas, so I’m just getting ready for Friday.”
Drummond, the freakishly athletic 20-year-old, who possesses a world of potential, had 12 points and five rebounds in 16 minutes on Wednesday night. But the Dominican Republic isn’t exactly considered a favorite, so it’s unknown how much stock the coaching staff and managing director Jerry Colangelo will place on Drummond’s performance.
Many feel Plumlee, who is entering just his second NBA season after being named to the All-Rookie First Team in 2013-14, is only getting this opportunity because he played for Coach K at Duke. But Plumlee continues to maintain that there is no “favoritism,” -- something we discussed in the blog previously.
In this case, it’s about fit, not necessarily overall talent. But while Plumlee may be the least accomplished player in the mix, he’s certainly getting better by competing against some of the best big men in the world.
“You can’t play a pickup game like this in the summer,” Plumlee said. “It’s a great experience for all of us. And we’re going to become better players because of it.”
“I’m stick around until they tell me to go home.”