American hoops team arrives in China
By Min Lee
MACAU, China ó Loaded with star power but wary of complacency, the U.S. Olympic basketball team arrived in China on Monday with a word of caution from coach Mike Krzyzewski.
iWe havenít accomplished anything yet,î he said.
The team is taking its Olympic preparations to this southern Chinese casino enclave. LeBron James joined the squadís first practice in Macau with his right ankle taped. He sat out the Americansí first tuneup against Canada on Friday with a sprain.
iEvery time we step onto the court, we know we have the talent and we know we have the strength to go out and be the best team on the court,î James said. iThe chemistry right now is really good.î
The Cleveland Cavaliers star said he will play in upcoming exhibition games in Macau and Shanghai.
The U.S. has clearly underachieved in international competition the past eight years. It finished sixth in the 2002 world championships and won the bronze at the 2004 Olympics and 2006 world championships.
Krzyzewski expects the competition in Bejing to be better than ever because iworld basketball has gotten to another level.î
iMany of the teams we face … some will have a starting five of five NBA players,î the Duke coach said. iWorld basketball is terrific, and itíll be a tough challenge for us.î
In Macau, the U.S. will play Turkey on Thursday and Lithuania on Friday. In Shanghai, they will play Russia on Aug. 3 and Australia on Aug. 5.
The Americans open Aug. 10 against China, which features Houston Rockets center Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian, who recently was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the New Jersey Nets.
Asked about other contenders, Dwyane Wade pointed to defending Olympic champion Argentina and reigning world champion Spain.
But, the Miami Heat star added, iIím not going to say anyone else (other than the U.S.) is a favorite to win.î
The U.S. squad is similar to the one at the 2006 worlds, with Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd the big additions.
U.S. team managing director Jerry Colangelo said that simply throwing together a collection of NBA stars doesnít cut it anymore. He noted that the nucleus of this team was assembled in 2006.
iThe core players have been together for the last three years,î he said. iIn the past, all-star teams were selected. That was good enough, but thatís not the case any more.î