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08/07/2012
USA – Griffin, Harden headed to London

LAS VEGAS (Olympics) - Los Angeles Clipper Blake Griffin and Oklahoma City's James Harden have made the 12-man United States squad for the London Games.

The two NBA stars have joined an American group that includes five gold-medal winners from Beijing in 2008 and five world champions from Istanbul two years ago.

The group headed to London includes LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Deron Williams, who all reached the top of the podium in China.

World Championship MVP Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler and Andre Iguodala will make their Olympic debuts.

Missing out are Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis.

"It was very difficult," USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

"All the guys played so well. A lot them built up equity, being a world champion in Istanbul.

"Eric Gordon and Rudy Gay were on our world championship team.

"Overall, I thought (USA Basketball chairman) Jerry Colangelo and our staff took into account all our needs might have in surrounding Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, those four in particular, and how you make a team as a result as having those four as your center."

Since naming a 20-strong list of finalists in January, several candidates were lost to injuries.

The only true center in the team is New York Knicks big man Chandler, although he will go to London on the back of an NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

"Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh most definitely would have been on the team if they hadn't been injured," Krzyzewski said.

"We're definitely confident with the players we have chosen that can fill the need to defending the post, rebounding, and we create match-up problems for other teams trying to compete against us."

The United States will compete in Group A of the Preliminary Round at the Olympics against France, Tunisia, Argentina and two of the sides that come out of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Caracas, Venezuela.

Russia
and Lithuania won their Semi-Finals at the OQT on Saturday to seal places in London.

Nigeria
will take on the Dominican Republic in a fight for the last spot at the Olympics.

The teams will then be drawn into the two groups in London.

One of the strengths of the USA squad in Beijing, and Istanbul, was the players' willingness to play unselfish basketball and to take on the roles asked by the coaching staff.

"We need to adapt to the strengths of each other, and adapt to the fact that we're now playing for the United States or coaching for the United States," Krzyzewski said.

"So there is a spirit of cooperation. We've had that, over the last six years.

"We've built a lot of great relationships with these players over the last six years.

"They trust us. We have continuity in having five Olympians from Beijing on the team, five players from the World Championship, and two newest players will blend in well because there is already a culture of cooperation."

FIBA

 

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