TOKYO -- These Olympics for the U.S. men's basketball team have been bizarre and uncomfortable -- and absurd.
In the past few days, Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich has been preparing his team for what is expected to be a highly competitive game Thursday against Australia, which has perhaps its best team ever and is playing with pressure from home to deliver its first medal in basketball.
At the same time he's working on a game plan to stop them, Popovich has been negotiating free-agent contracts with two of the Aussie players. Patty Mills, who played for Popovich's San Antonio Spurs for the past 10 years, ended up moving on and signing with the Brooklyn Nets.
But 25-year-old forward Jock Landale, whom Popovich has watched be a key part of two Aussie victories over Team USA since he has been national team coach, is now a Spur after reaching an agreement the day before the Olympic quarterfinal.
So now he will play the biggest game of his international career trying to beat his new boss.
"I haven't done too much sleeping and I haven't done too much eating," said Popovich, whose famous team-building dinners have been suspended in Tokyo. "But I've been on the phone a lot."
All the while, his team, together for little more than a cup of coffee, faces an Australia squad that has been building to Thursday's semifinal for a decade.