Nets star Kevin Durant knew that most of the world was fighting Team USA, and their staggering losses encouraged their enemies that they could be defeated.
But Durant said it also reminds Team USA that they can be defeated and strengthened they will have to find their way to Olympic gold in Tokyo. And that’s a good thing.
“Yes, yes, I feel we understand which coach [Gregg Popovich] Expectations from us on both sides of the ring,” Durant said after Team USA practice. “I feel the boys are more comfortable with each other in their roles on a team, and that will only be good for us once we start playing real games.
“So it’s good to get a slap in the face early to remind us that there’s no goofing around. So a lot of people are used to Team America coming to blow everyone away, so it’s good for us. Hopefully those are the final defeats now. “
Durant and Popovich are believing in who lost to Nigeria and Australia uncomfortably in their first two show games in Las Vegas, after receiving the full attention of Team USA. But they have certainly also captured the attention of their enemies, boosting the hopes of teams like France into Sunday’s opening qualifiers.
“Every team wants to beat us. Everyone wants to see us lose. So every game has a little extra pressure,” said Durant. “And a lot of boys dropped out of school, so many circumstances. And I’m sure the other teams [have] watched us lose and felt confident in the tournament. But we understand what we are facing and we are looking forward to the challenge. “
The dropouts were Sorcerer star Bradley Beal (health and safety protocols) and Cavalier big man Kevin Love (injury recovery) who were forced to withdraw. Zach LaVine will travel to Japan after being isolated in isolation, with Popovich saying the wing can practice on Thursday and play on Sunday.
With Team America with only eight players until reinforcements arrive (The LaVine trio and NBA Finals Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Devin Booker), Durant will carry too much of the burden. He’s also just 25 points away from being Team America’s all-time Olympic top scorer, but insists it’s not a hit.
“No, records will be broken and people call you the best, it’s just an opinion,” Durant said. “I can’t be bothered about that. It’s about how I work every day. “