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Bryant heads US basketball team to Games
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NBA's MVP Kobe Bryant from Lakers will spearhead the 12-man USA Olympic men's basketball team announced on Monday in Chicago for the Beijing Games this August.

Lebron James (Cleveland), Dwyane Wade (Miami), second time Olympians, and Olympic debutant Chris Paul (New Orleans) were also included in the squad, which the USA Olympic Committee hopes to capture the gold medal in Beijing after a bronze-medal showing in Athens four years ago.

They were joined by Carmelo Anthony (Denver), Jason Kidd (Dallas), Dwight Howard (Orlando), Michael Redd (Milwaukee), Deron Williams (Utah), Carlos Boozer (Utah), Chris Bosh (Toronto) and Tayshaun Prince (Detroit).

Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski is head coach of the USA team. Serving as assistant coaches are Syracuse University coach Jim Boeheim, New York Knicks head mentor Mike D'Antoni and Portland Blazers head coach Nate McMillan.

"This has been, to say the least, an extremely difficult selection process. The 33 players who committed to be part of the USA national team program and have been involved in our various training camps and competitions the past two summers deserve recognition and acknowledgment for their contributions and for their commitment to their country," said Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball and chairman of the NBA's Phoenix Suns.

"It's already been proven that a group of all-stars does not necessarily ensure that you're going to win," he said, "You need scorers, you need size, you need distributors, you need role players and we've stayed true to that."

The team features six guards and five forwards with Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic the only regular center named in the team.

"Our team has excellent athleticism and great versatility. We have players who are experienced in the international game thanks to the last two summers' training and competitions. I feel really good where we are, we have the foundation in but we have a lot work ahead, "Krzyzewski said.

He added that team defense will decide whether his team can win the gold medal.

The United States got a disappointing bronze medal in Athens Olympics in 2004, and also finished third at the world championship in Japan two years ago.

The United States will begin its first training in Las Vegas on Friday and play a series of exhibition games against other NBA players, as well as other countries' teams in July and August.

The U.S., placed in preliminary Group B in Beijing, opens play against host China on August 10. Among the Group, they will also play African champion Angola, world champion Spain and two qualifiers who will be determined through July 14-20 FIBA world Olympic qualifying tournament.

(Xinhua News Agency June 24, 2008)

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