MACAU, China – 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.
“We haven’t accomplished anything yet,” he said.
The team is taking its Olympic preparations to this southern Chinese casino enclave. LeBron James joined the squad’s first practice in Macau with his right ankle taped. He sat out the Americans’ first tuneup against Canada on Friday with a sprain.
“Every 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,” James said. “The chemistry right now is really good.”
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 Beijing to be better than ever because “world basketball has gotten to another level.”
“Many of the teams we face . . . some will have a starting five of five NBA players,” the Duke coach said. “World basketball is terrific and it’ll be a tough challenge for us.”
In Macau, the U.S. will play Turkey on Thursday and Lithuania on Friday. In Shanghai, it will play Russia on Sunday and Australia on Aug. 5.
The Americans open Olympic play 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, “I’m not going to say anyone else (other than the U.S.) is a favorite to win.”