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Turner, Team USA Head Down Under to Continue Training

by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

Editor's Note: This blog will be updated throughout the week as USA Basketball practices in Melbourne.

Wednesday, Aug. 21

Turner and the USA Basketball Men's National Team held their third practice in Melbourne, their final tuneup before they take on the Australian national team in the first of two exhibitions on Thursday. The United States will also square off against the Boomers on Saturday.

Australia has a deep roster with plenty of NBA talent, even with All-Star guard Ben Simmons electing not to compete for his home country this summer. The Australian squad still features Aron Baynes, Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, and Patty Mills.

"They are one of the teams that can win the whole thing, without a doubt," United States coach Gregg Popovich said. "I'm not saying that because I'm here. It's just a fact. They've been close for several years, and they are hungry. They are talented."

PHOTO GALLERY: Myles Turner at USA Basketball Training in Australia »

One fun wrinkle to these two exhibitions is that they will be held in Marvel Stadium, a venue typically used for Australian rules football with a capacity of over 50,000. That should make for a fun atmosphere reminiscent of when the NCAA plays Final Four games at NFL stadiums.

Turner has yet to miss a shot so far in game action this summer, albeit in limited minutes. He went 2-for-2 (including a 3-pointer) in USA Basketball's intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas and then was 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line in an exhibition win over Spain last Friday in Anaheim.

Thursday's exhibition will take place at 5:30 AM ET and will air live on both NBA TV and Twitch. If you don't want to get up that early, NBA TV will air a replay of the game at both 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM ET.

Tuesday, Aug. 20

On Tuesday, Turner and his USA teammates conducted their second practice in Australia. While there, Turner spoke to Leigh Ellis for NBA Australia about his experience so far.

"Just being around a group of guys that want to work every day, get each other better, I couldn't have asked to be around a better group of coaches or a better group of guys," Turner said.

Turner said head coach Gregg Popovich has put an emphasis on sharing the ball during training camp as the team prepares to defend its title at the FIBA World Cup next month in China. The United States Men's National Team has won the last five major international tournaments dating back to the 2008 Olympics.

"Ball movement is so key and so important in international play," Turner said. "That's one thing we're preaching here. We don't have any selfish guys. We've got a group of guys that are willing and able to make the extra pass and go the extra mile."

Personally, Turner told Ellis he is carrying plenty of motivation into the World Cup and the 2019-20 NBA season after being overlooked in postseason awards voting last season. The 6-11 center led the NBA in blocks but finished fifth in Defensive Player of the Year voting and was not elected to an All-Defensive team.

"Not making an All-Defensive team was a slap in the face for me," Turner said. "(I'm) just taking it as motivation and I'm just going to keep building and elevating (and) get better every year."

Monday, Aug. 19

After two weeks of practice on the West Coast, Pacers center Myles Turner and the USA Basketball Men's National Team traveled down under to Australia over the weekend to continue their preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup next month in China.

Turner and his teammates will be in Melbourne through Saturday, Aug. 24, where they will train and play a pair of exhibitions against the Australian national team. They will then head to Sydney for a few more days of practice and an exhibition against Canada on Monday, Aug. 26.

PHOTO GALLERY: Myles Turner at USA Basketball Training in Australia »

Turner is one of 13 players who made the trip to Australia. Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox played in Friday night's exhibition against Spain in Anaheim and was expected to also travel with the team, but decided to withdraw his name from consideration and focus on the upcoming season.

Fox's withdrawal leaves Turner, Harrison Barnes (Kings), Jaylen Brown (Celtics), Joe Harris (Nets), Kyle Kuzma (Lakers), Brook Lopez (Bucks), Khris Middleton (Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Mason Plumlee (Nuggets), Marcus Smart (Celtics), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Kemba Walker (Celtics), and Derrick White (Spurs). Just one of those 13 players will be need to be cut before the United States opens the World Cup against the Czech Republic in Shanghai on Sept. 1.



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After a 17-hour flight to Australia, Turner and his teammates hit the floor on Monday for a light day of practice.

"Right now, we are just focused on getting our stuff down pat: the things we work on in practice, our plays, our defensive schemes, rotations, things like that," Walker said. "We're trying to clean those things up, get better."

Because of limited practice time, one of the biggest focuses for USA Basketball head coach Gregg Popovich on this trip is building chemistry off the court.

"We go to dinner without phones, people actually talk to each other, ask questions and learn about how each other grew up, that sort of thing," Popovich said. "Because it is a brand new basketball team, you have to start not skipping steps and trying to learn about people, and you get as far as you can in a short period of time."

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