The USA Men's Basketball team made their way to Rio to begin the Olympic experience while preparing to open up play on Saturday against China.
After two convincing exhibition wins over the China national team last week, Team USA has the opportunity to get rolling early in the Olympics basketball tournament. Paul George missed the second half of the second win over China due to a strained left calf and then sat out the final two exhibition games the rest his calf.
PG continued to workout with the team and stressed that sitting out the games was just being overly cautious to make sure he was ready for Rio. Following the team's win over Nigeria on Monday, Coach Mike Krzyzewski confirmed he is not concerned about PG, nor Kyrie Irving who also sat out against Nigeria to rest a bruised thigh, and expects both to be available to play against China.
Could you give an update on Paul George and also just speak to that defensive intensity that you talked about?
Coach K: I said that both of them will be ready to go, Paul and Kyrie, and getting those two back, then the defensive intensity will increase. Paul is as good as a defensive player on this planet. And Kyrie, in the last ballgame, actually the ballgame before that, started to play outstanding defense. It just gives us more depth and ability to pressure the ball, pressure passing lanes. And today, Nigeria is a really good three point shooting team, and it wasn’t until the last five minutes of the game that they hit a 3. We didn’t give them any open ones, and then we really closed out well. With our athletic ability, we should be able to do that, and we have been doing it, so I like that about our group.
Both the men's and women's teams, including Fever legend Tamika Catchings, flew together en route to Rio where they will forego the Olympic Village and take up residence on a cruise ship.
The men tip off at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday against China, while the women's quest for gold begins on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET against Senegal.