Worst team ever: Sledge won't derail USA
They've been described as one of the worst US national basketball teams in history and Kemba Walker says that's motivating them as they prepare to play Australia in Melbourne.
The US team is thin on superstars, with only Walker, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez combining for five All-Star appearances in comparison to their last Olympics squad which had 33.
But Walker, who last month joined Boston after nine NBA years with Charlotte, said criticism of the US team was spurring them on ahead of their FIBA World Cup title defence in China.
"We don't care - we want to be here and are putting in the time to be here and we definitely take that as motivation," Walker said.
WHAT: Boomers v USA
WHEN: 22 August
WHERE: Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
TIME: 7:30pm tip-off
TV: Live on SBS Viceland
"We have a bunch of guys who don't mind being the underdogs. We are hungry and we are going to go out there to try and win a gold medal." The Boston Celtics point guard has won All Star honours over the past three NBA seasons and at 29, is one of the most experienced in the US side. Walker said he, Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and Celtics guard Marcus Smart would share the captaincy duties as part of a leadership group.
"I take pride in being a leader and guys looking to me and I'm here to set the tempo and bring my experience and energy," he said.
Walker hasn't played alongside any of the current Boomers but said their experience playing together would give them an advantage over his US team. "They have experienced guys who have been playing with each other for a very long time so they know each other really well.
"I think their camaraderie and chemistry is something that might be a little better than us because they've been together for a very long time and we've only had three weeks." He did however warn his team were quickly finding their feet as they ready for two games at Marvel Stadium against Australia and then two against Canada in Sydney next week.
Their opening World Cup pool game is September 1 against Czech Republic, while Australia take on Canada on the same day.
"We are doing a very, very good job of gelling together - I feel like I've known these guys for a very long time," he said.
"We have easy, high-character guys who are easy to get along with, who work hard and want to be here."
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