Team USA wary of Deng threat in British warm-up
By Ian Whittell ,AFP
July 19, 2012, 12:18 am TWN
MANCHESTER, England -- Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the United States Olympic basketball team, expects a tough challenge from his former player Luol Deng and hosts Great Britain as his side continues its preparation for London 2012.
The USA, winners over the Dominican Republic and Brazil, face a third exhibition game against Great Britain at Manchester's MEN Arena on Thursday before flying to Barcelona to meet Spain and Argentina ahead of their Olympic title defence.
Great Britain, 350-1 underdogs to win gold in London, have just two NBA players on their roster, the 6-foot 10-inch forward Joel Freeland, who will make his NBA debut with the Portland Trailblazers next season, and Chicago Bulls All Star Deng, who spent one season playing for Krzyzewski at Duke in 2003-04.
However, despite the relatively modest opposition, Krzyzewski believes the Manchester experience will be an important one in his team's preparations.
“The main thing we want is to get a feel for the country. We want to sample the enthusiasm and the spirit,” said Krzyzewski.
“Watching Luol in action will be a good thing for me but we also want to get a flavor for the Olympics and then go to Spain to fine tune.
“The Manchester stop is going to be an interesting one. All the guys are excited about it, they all know the name Manchester. A number of them are soccer fans. Kobe (Bryant) watches it all the time and LeBron (James) is, too.
“We're visiting a place that is accustomed to championships and hosting high level sport so we're looking forward to it.”
While logic dictates Great Britain, who have won just two of their nine friendly games this summer, will be seriously over-matched against the defending Olympic champions, Krzyzewski is respectful of what the hosts could achieve in London with Deng in their ranks.