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1ST LEAD US Olympic basketballers put humble face on supreme confidence By Albert Otti, dpa

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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - A luxury cruise ship called the Silver Cloud is anchored in Rio de Janeiro, serving as the temporary Olympic home of the US basketballers, and as a reminder that the team outshines its rivals in every aspect.

Although the squad of NBA players representing the United States at the Summer Olympics admit that they are the stars and favourites in Rio, they make an effort to appear humble.

Team leader Carmelo Anthony, who makes his fourth Olympic appearance at these Games, said the beds were too short for basketball players on the ship, just like in the Olympic village where the other teams are staying.

"I think we are all having sleeping problems," he told reporters in Rio on Thursday.

US players were looking forward to mingling with other athletes in the Olympic village, the four-time Olympian added.

The New York Knicks player was less humble about his ambitions in Rio.

"My goal is to lead this team to a gold medal and enjoy the process and enjoy the journey," Anthony said.

"We go out there, we play our own game, we do what we do, we try not to worry about anybody else," the forward added.

The US has won 14 out of 17 Olympic tournaments, and they plan to improve that record at the 2016 Olympics, where they will play their first match Saturday against China.

So, is there anything that can stop the US from winning in Rio?

"I don‘t know. Nothing," Anthony‘s teammate Kyrie Irving said, even though they have to make do without stars such as LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski nevertheless stressed that "we have the utmost respect for the game and for the international community. We know that there are great basketball players all over the world."

Nearly 50 National Basketball Association (NBA) athletes participate in Rio, of which only 12 play for the US.

Australia, Brazil and France have significant numbers of NBA athletes. US player Klay Thompson named these teams as some of the toughest competitors at these Olympics, along with Serbia and Spain.

The Golden State Warrior shooting guard is among the many Olympic first-timers from the US in Rio.

He acknowledged that the US team must act as one and not as a collection of stars if it wants to triumph once again.

"We realize that individual numbers and performances don‘t really matter unless you win a gold medal, so we all put our egos aside and we just really wanna take the gold back to the United States," he said.

Such unity also carries a political message, Anthony said.

"From a career standpoint, this is a major step for me and the guys to come on here and represent our country, especially during times where so much is going on back in our country," he told reporters.

Anthony has previously called on other athletes to be politically active on issues that have been roiling the US, such as police violence and race.

The team would "represent our country and be united and show the rest of the world that we are united, regardless of what‘s going on," he added.



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