USA Basketball has announced the addition of eight players to its senior national squad as the team prepares for a key Olympic qualifying tournament. As VOA's David Byrd reports, the U.S. men hope to send a message that they are serious about winning Olympic gold.
Forward Carlos Boozer and guard Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz, Tyson Chandler of New Orleans, Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets and Mike Miller of the Memphis Grizzlies joined the American squad.
Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons and college players Kevin Durant (of Texas) and Greg Oden (of Ohio State) were also added to the senior team.
USA Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke University said that he is encouraged by the contribution and commitment NBA players are willing to make to the program.
"I have been impressed with the commitment from the NBA players," said Mike Krzyzewski. "To see that is what this movement, this program that we are trying to develop, is all about. And that is to put the very best basketball team that the United States can out on the court."
Carlos Boozer, who played for Krzyzewski at Duke and is still in the NBA playoffs with the Utah Jazz, says that his goal is to win the Americas Championship so potential Olympic opponents will know Team USA is ready for the Olympics.
"We want to send a message and a tone throughout the rest of the world that we mean business and that we want to come out and win," said Carlos Boozer. "And hopefully that translates into winning the entire thing [the Americas Championship] and sending a message across the world that we are going to be ready for Beijing. That's my outlook on it."
Boozer and the other players join 17 stars previously named to the national team. The U.S. team will have a minicamp before heading to the 2007 International Basketball Federation's Americas Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada beginning August 22.
The Americas Championship features 10 national teams and is one of five zonal qualifying tournaments for the 2008 Olympics. Two teams from the Americas zone will qualify directly for the Beijing Games. The third and fourth placed teams go to the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying tournament, from which three teams will qualify for Beijing.