Practice is harder, Durant says

By Chen Xiangfeng
0 CommentsPrint E-mail china daily, September 8, 2010
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NBA All-star forward Kevin Durant says the US team practices harder than a competitive match at the World Championship in a bid to gain the title.

"We have been practicing very hard over the past few days. Even harder than the games. That's what we have to do to get better," the Oklahoma City Thunder star said after the team's 121-66 thrashing of Angola in the last 16 on Monday.

"Practice is a battle for us. We have been working so hard and it's been the best two days since I've been here."

The US, which has been dubbed a B team in Turkey without superstars like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, did not impress in the preliminary round.

The young side put on exhibition games against small teams like Iran and Tunisia but struggled against Brazil, with a tight 70-68 win.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his players are clear there are tougher games ahead on the way to claim the World Championship crown, which has eluded them for 16 years and there is no reason to relax in practice.

"The couple of days of practice (after the preliminary round) really helped us. We played like we practiced, which is the best a coach can ask for," Coach K said.

"We like the team that we're developing, but it's not a powerhouse. It'll be very much a developing team. We hope that we'll have our best product by the medal round."

Durant, who scored 17 points in 20 minutes in the lopsided Angola game, is also expected to deliver more in the quarterfinal against Russia.

"I'm always passionate coming into a game. It's very important to get up early and score early," the youngest NBA scoring champion said.

"I'm a guy I that can make easy baskets if I move around. I made a couple of tip-ins. My teammates did a great job of passing me the ball today. I know if I play very hard in defense and get steals, the easy points will come."

Three years into his NBA career, Durant has impressed. He has helped theThunder become a team to watch and become an elite player. He has also handled himself with class.

However, the global spotlight is unlike anything he has ever faced.

The international game is different to the NBA. Other national teams have played together for years, establishing chemistry, while the Americans have had to make do with a summer training camp.

Asked if he has some pressure as the leader of the team to help the side stand on the top podium for the first time in 16 years, Durant said Chauncey Billups was the team leader and he was just focused on his game.

"Chauncey is the leader and I just do my job to help the team win," he said.

"We are not thinking about the 16-year-old thing. We play our game and that's all we can do."

To make this team different from those at the past Worlds, they play more balanced. In the tournament's scoring, assists and rebounds standings so far, no American player is ranked among the top three.

The best is Durant's fifth place in scoring with 17.7 points.

However, all 12 Americans scored in the Angola game and unselfishness saw a total of 30 assists, which were shared by 10 players.

"The coach lets us know that it's all about team. No one guy is higher than the other guy on a totem pole. Everybody is equal," Durant said. "It's just basketball. I like to have fun. We have great players here, so we are going take a lot of pressure off of each other."

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