Smooth sailing? U.S. men’s basketball seeks more Olympic gold

Published 6:02 am Friday, August 5, 2016

Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO — There were so many questions about their cushy accommodations it seemed the Americans were on vacation.

Yes, the U.S. men’s basketball team is staying on a cruise ship, with gorgeous views of Brazil’s beautiful beaches.

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But the Americans didn’t come to Rio de Janeiro for fun and sun.

“We know what’s our task at hand,” veteran Carmelo Anthony said. “This is business for us. We’re going out there to take care of business.”

The U.S. team had its international introduction Thursday with its Olympic news conference, answering plenty of questions about where they’re staying (the luxury yacht) and who’s not playing (LeBron James and Stephen Curry).

It was the usual spectacle for a team that always draws a crowd at the Olympics, no matter who is on the roster. This one features 10 players with no Olympic experience, with only Anthony and Kevin Durant back from the team that won the Americans’ second straight gold medal in 2012.

They’re still considered the team to beat even with their inexperience, which is why Paul George had such trouble with his first attempt at Portuguese.

A local journalist tried to teach him the word for underdog, then asked if there was any chance the U.S. could fill that role.

“Of us being underdog?” he said. “No, I don’t think we’re the underdog.”

Try heavy, heavy favorite.

The Americans open on Saturday against China, a team they beat by 49 and 50 points in exhibition play. So that game shouldn’t be close, and it might be a while before they get one — if they get one — that is. But the U.S. players say they aren’t thinking that way.

“You have to worry about everybody,” forward Draymond Green said. “Every to be locked in every game. If you don’t, you’ll get beat.”