The Sixers left Spain on Sunday with a two-point victory over Bilbao Basket and headed to Manchester, England for a second preseason game.
Critics will say a two-point win over a team that is not the equivalent of NBA talent is hardly impressive. However, Brett Brown saw the victory as a good starting point for his young group.
“We aren’t beating our chest because we have all this talent. We don’t,” Brown said via the Sixers’ web site. “We have good players who are trying to get better. We have some good veteran players, but we understand the monumental task we have of competing in the NBA. We need that kind of team chemistry to extract whatever we can from this year’s group.”
The task gets tougher for the Sixers on Tuesday when they take on Oklahoma City, one of six NBA teams participating in this year’s NBA Global Games.
One area of concern Brown sees heading into a matchup against the Western Conference power is on the backboard.
“Rebounding,” Brown said when asked what he would like the Sixers to improve on from Sunday. “Some of that is born out of us being so small and our big guys aren’t really that physical. Our guards are going to have to board. It is going to have to be a gang effort, a gang mentality.
“It is the physical design of our team, but that’s life and we just really have to understand how this team was built and what we need to do to fix it.”
The Sixers were outrebounded by Bilbao, 45-39. The team’s leading rebounder was guard James Anderson, who hauled in seven boards, including six at the defensive end.
Brown was impressed with Anderson’s consistent play on both ends of the floor (see story).
“James Anderson was really good,” Brown said. “I had James in San Antonio, so I knew what we were getting. But he is coming along, getting older. His time is now to claim his stake in the NBA. I liked his six defensive rebounds. He was 6 of 8 from the floor. I thought he played a solid all-around game.”
Evan Turner led the Sixers with 25 points. Turner knows it is a rebuilding year for the franchise, but he liked what his teammates brought to the table against their Spanish foe.
“Bring the same energy,” Turner said. “We made some mistakes in Spain but we competed. It is OK to make mistakes but it is not OK not to play hard all the time. So hopefully we do that and keep executing and carrying over stuff we learned today in practice.”
Turner is hoping the crowd in England will be as enthusiastic as the fans in Bilbao. Sunday’s crowd made sure the atmosphere was energetic and Brown knew it would be that way. Before the game, the coach shared with his players just how much Spain enjoys basketball and how the game has become a viable product worldwide.
“Commissioner (David) Stern and the NBA are very smart about how they built this brand over the years,” Brown said. “Having coached overseas for 17 years and travelled all over the world because of those experiences, I have had a chance to see the NBA logo and what it means to fans. It is a very powerful logo, so this process has been going on for many, many years.”