London, England – The United States men’s basketball is undoubtedly the favorite in the Olympic competition, and anything less than gold would be a shame. However, the team is getting used to the pressure.
“We have expectations on us to win every single game. If we lost an exhibition game, it would be the biggest news,” said Kevin Durant. “We went through that in 2010 in the World Championships. We can’t let that affect us. We have to come out and play our game.”
The United States took home the gold medal in 2008, only four years after they had fallen apart in Athens, claiming only a bronze medal. This team has been put together differently, though. Most of the players have played on an Olympic team and in the World Championships and have put years of commitment into the Gold medal pursuit.
“You feel the pressure, but every athlete here has to deal with pressure,” said Kobe Bryant. “Every event in every sport has a favorite. It’s part of what we do.”
The team will match up with a Spanish team that gave them a close ballgame four years ago. The U.S. won 118-107. The Spanish are led by a trio of talented big men in Pau and Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.
“Pau is one of the best players in the world. We are obviously very concerned about him,” said Bryant.
Spain is a better team than they were in 2008,” said LeBron James. “They have a great team. I am not surprised we are playing them.”
Spain has been a defensive minded team throughout the Olympics, holding opponents to only 73 points per game. On the other hand, the USA has been dominant offensively, shooting 45 percent from three-point range and averaging nearly 117 points per game. However, the Americans aren’t going to take Spain’s offense lightly.
“Offense will come because we have so many great shooters,” Durant said. “On the defensive end, we have to do what we have been doing by getting steals and forcing turnovers. We all have to be locked in and ready to play.”