U.S. fills its Olympic basketball roster

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U.S. fills its Olympic basketball roster

LAS VEGAS - LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and three other Olympic gold medalists were already back.

Add a defensive stopper, a potent scorer off the bench and one of the NBA’s most explosive athletes, and the U.S. Olympic basketball team looks even better than the one that won gold four years ago.

“We feel like we’re definitely a great team. We have all the pieces that we need,” forward Carmelo Anthony said.

The Americans rounded out their roster Saturday by adding Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala and James Harden.

Also heading to London for the defending gold medalists are Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love.

The Americans never had a close game four years ago until the championship, when they pulled away in the final two minutes to beat Spain 118-107.

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo acknowledged the adversity the team faced with all the injuries in his remarks before the players were introduced during a press conference, all wearing their white USA jerseys.

“But I’m proud to say we’ve put together in my opinion a terrific team with great athleticism and great versatility and we believe we’re going to be successful,” Colangelo said.

Griffin showed he was healthy again after being slowed by a knee injury during the playoffs, putting on an impressive dunking display following practice Saturday. Harden, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year with Oklahoma City, gives the Americans more scoring punch off the bench, and Iguodala is a defensive specialist who can guard multiple positions.

The Americans lost Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to injuries in recent months, forcing them to scrap plans to name their 12-man roster on June 18. They asked the U.S. Olympic Committee for a roster extension and added Harden and Davis to their original pool of finalists chosen in January.

Harden seemed a long shot, joining Griffin as the only player who didn’t play on either of the last two U.S. teams. But the Americans felt they needed someone comfortable with coming off the bench and the result was three players from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Iguodala was frequently assigned the role of shutting down the opponent’s best player two years ago in the world basketball championship, and he previously had scrimmaged against the U.S. on the select team of young players, so Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski knew what he could do.

AP
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