John Jenkins, 6’4” shooting guard for the Westchester Knicks, was beyond thrilled to be selected to represent his country as part of the 2019 annual FIBA AmeriCup tournament. Coached by basketball legend Jeff Van Gundy, Team USA put up a valiant effort against home-team powerhouse Argentina in La Rioja, but ultimately lost 80-63. The team bounced back in their second game, in Montevideo, against Uruguay, winning 78-70 and clinching a berth in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. What follows are two journal entries that the affable Knick kept exclusively for WM about his experience, so far, in the international competition.
ENTRY 1: 11/27/18
What’s up everybody? Before I start to journal my experience here with the USA team for Westchester Magazine, I just want to thank Sean Ford and the entire USA basketball committee for choosing me to be a part of this great team. I was fortunate enough to play as a sophomore in college in the World University Games (to this day a top-5 experience of my life) to now being able to help qualify our country for the AmeriCup.
Anytime you put on the Red, White, and Blue, it immediately becomes about your country and bringing home medals and wins. This is why I love this experience so much. This year they have chosen 12 of the top G League players to represent the United States. It was a fairly quick turnaround from playing my last game in Westchester (against Long Island) to going head to head with the top players in the G League in practice a few days later.
Training camp was pretty tough. We have a very short time to get to know one another and learn how we want to play. Head Coach [Jeff] Van Gundy is simply incredible. I have learned so much in less than a week that I will be able to carry on with me when I head back to Westchester. His attention to detail and the standard that he has set for our team has been unbelievable. A big goal of mine while I’m here is to not let him down.
We spent three days in Houston for training camp, and on the third day we boarded a flight to Buenos Aires to scrimmage a local team to give us a good look at how the FIBA game is played. It was great to play against somebody else for once and compete with players of another country. We ended up winning by a wide margin, but we will have to be better against Argentina on Thursday.
“Anytime you put on the Red, White, and Blue, it immediately becomes about your country and bringing home medals and wins. This is why I love this experience so much. ”
ENTRY 2: 12/4/18
What’s up guys? Back again for the second part of my journal! A lot has happened since my last one. I’m currently back in Westchester and excited to play Saturday against OKC. I had an unbelievable trip with the USA team.
As most of you know, we qualified for the World Cup in our win against Uruguay. It was a back-and-forth game in a very hostile environment, so it was really nice to get a win. I have so much respect for the two teams we played against: Argentina and Uruguay. Our first game, against Argentina, was not the best game for us. We struggled to match their intensity the whole game, but we took a tough loss against a very good team.
It was on us to bounce back against Uruguay, and I’m happy we were able to do that. Playing for the USA and having that responsibility of winning for your country is something I will always cherish. Now that I am back with Westchester, I look forward to continuing our winning streak and playing hard for this great county.