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Mission accomplished for USA - as a team
MADRID (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - The United States had the goal of coming to Spain and winning the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup on September 14 in Madrid. And after beating Serbia 129-92 in the Final, the Americans accomplished their mission - but only as a team.
"It was a failure if we didn't win it. We thought we're too talented not to win it," said US guard Klay Thompson, who was the Americans' second-leading scorer, averaging 12.7 points per game.
We all sacrificed a lot for this one common goal. - Thompson
"It didn't matter about stats. It didn't matter about who led in scoring, it just mattered coming back with the hardware."
When asked what was the biggest thing he learned from the whole experience, the Golden States Warriors star said: "How to be a team. It's that simple. I learned so much from Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) - not even just about basketball but just how to be a team and how to be a unit."
One of the leaders of the unit was Kyrie Irving, who ended up winning the tournament MVP award after scoring 26 points in the Final including hitting all six of his three-point attempts.
This is by far the biggest accomplishment in my life so far. - Irving
"This is one of the greatest moments in my life. I did this with guys I can call my brothers for the rest of my life," said Irving.
"You're part of something bigger than yourself. I was willing to do anything that Coach K wanted. I just wanted to take every advantage I could playing with these guys and learning from these guys."
Krzyzewski was especially impressed by both Irving and James Harden, the latter who added 23 points in the title game.
We feel very privileged to be called world champions - Krzyzewski
"Kyrie and James were amazing. But everybody wanted to work. They were always prepared. I'm proud of them," said Krzyzewski, who has won the title in each of the past four world stage competitions - the 2010 and 2014 editions of the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
"Each one is special. The main difference is the players change. But the culture has stayed the same. The players have loved it. They didn't have to be sold. They wanted to be part of it."
Serbia for their part were thrilled to have reached the Final.
"We are not sad at all. We finished second in the world," said Vladimir Stimac.
We showed a small country with 6.5 million people had a great basketball culture. - Stimac
Serbian coach Sasha Djordjevic talked about the honour he took in coaching the team.
"I'm really happy that I was part of this team and was able to help achieve this medal. Nobody expected us to do this. But we kept growing up," he said.
"But (the United States) were the best team in this competition. They kicked our butts.
"The three-pointers made the difference. .. But I'm happy with the effort we put on the floor."