Brazilian coach: Our team can ‘match the Knicks’ in preseason game

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Hope is part of what makes sports great. But there’s a fine line between hope and delusion. A non-NBA team believing it can knock off the New York Knicks seems firmly on that line — something approaching a punchline with just the right ring of truth.

So, what’s going on between Jorge Guerra, coach of New York’s Wednesday night preseason opponent and Brazilian powerhouse Bauru, and the Knicks? Marc Berman of the New York Post has the story:

Guerra and his coaching staff were at Barclays Center Monday when the Turkish power, Fenerbahce Ulker, upset the Nets and told The Post in Portuguese he was “not surprised.”

“I think we can compete at an NBA level,” he said through an interpreter of his Brazilian League champs. “We definitely can match the Knicks. It’s a great challenge and they’re [a] more physical team, but we have an experienced team and our style of play is more aggressive in offense than European teams. We play more creative than Europe.”

Guerra, a former Olympian, even fired a warning shot at Carmelo Anthony’s US Olympic squad, which is heading to Rio de Janiero for next year’s Summer Games.

“The last 10 years international basketball has taken a huge evolution,” Guerra said. “Everyone in the world can play. You got to respect every opponent. Team USA is favorite but if they’re not focused, they won’t get the gold medal as in the past.”

As basketball becomes more and more global, losing to international teams becomes less and less shaming. There is tons of hoops talent scattered around the world now, and a team that won just 17 NBA games last season is hardly in a position to think it’s going to win a contest purely because of the country in which it competes.

As Berman mentioned in his piece, the Nets, who might be better than the Knicks, just dropped a preseason game to Turkey’s best team, Fenerbahce Ulker. Heck, you don’t even need to be a bad team to lose to a foreign squad. The Spurs—YES, THE SPURS—dropped their preseason opener just last year to Alba Berlin. And no one cared, mostly because they shouldn’t have.

Guerra is right. His team probably can hang with the Knicks, especially during a preseason game, where intensity, adrenaline and competition are all a bit stifled. 

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