Divac Starts War of The Words With U.S.
Steve Wyche of the Washington Post reports that Vlade Divac believes that the Team USA?s grip on the World Championships is in jeopardy.
"We don't think we can beat them, we know we can beat them just like somebody can beat us before we can meet [Team USA] in the finals," Divac said after his team beat Angola, 113-63. "They are the favorites and they are number one and the best. [Do] we have a chance against them? Yeah, we do have a chance. If we come close, we will take advantage of it."
Team USA?s Paul Pierce, was unfazed by Divac's remarks. "The [Yugoslavians] are supposed to feel that way," he said. "I'm glad they feel confident. I'm not going to make any comment to give them any fuel. Vlade has been known to make comments like that." Said U.S. Coach George Karl: "It's our job to shut up the critics. . . . We've just got to go do our jobs and if we do our jobs then everyone has to write their apologies."
American forward Ben Wallace was a little less diplomatic. "That's Vlade shooting off at the mouth again," he said. "He does a lot of that. It's his personal opinion and if that's his personal opinion, who am I to argue with that? That's why we play the games. We're going to be right here."
Vlade?s Yugoslavian squad has five NBA players and feels they can break the US dominance in international play. The Kings? Peja Stojakovic, Seattle's Vladimir Radmanovic and Predrag Drobnjak and Clippers rookie Marko Jaric want to prove their skills and national pride against a lesser US team.
A weaker Team USA, which features Raef LaFrentz instead of Shaquille O'Neal, Shawn Marion instead of Kobe Bryant and Jay Williams instead of Jason Kidd, is a main reason for Yugoslavia's confidence. "If they had Shaq, Kobe and everybody else it would be a different story," Divac said. "This USA team . . . they are not the real Dream Team. The Dream Team is in the past."