MACAU (AFP) — Team USA chatted freely about winning gold at the Beijing Games and rejected suggestions of complacency as they jetted into Chinese territory on Monday to begin their Olympic preparations in earnest.
Star forward LeBron James, back to fitness after an ankle sprain, Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony all expressed confidence about the big prize despite an international drought stretching back to Sydney 2000.
"I will be playing here in Macau and in Shanghai preparing myself to get ready for Beijing," said James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"We're going to use these matches to get better every day, every second we're on the basketball court, to come together to be the team we need to be to win the gold medal."
The NBA superstars face Turkey and Lithuania in this gambling enclave on Thursday and Friday before completing their warm-up against Russia and Australia in Shanghai.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team also boasts NBA MVP Kobe Bryant and 2000 gold-medallist Jason Kidd, dismissed notions of over-confidence after the bronze-medal flops of Athens 2004 and the 2006 World Championships.
"We're not complacent. You shouldn't play unless you're confident but we have nothing to be complacent about. We haven't accomplished anything," he said.
"So we're in the midst of trying to accomplish so there will never be any complacency."
USA have been drawn in a tough Group B including world champions Spain, African title-holders Angola and European powers Greece and Germany. First up are the hosts, Yao Ming's China, on August 10.
"We have great respect for them but we haven't seen them so it's difficult for us to comment," said the coach. "They will be a tough foe especially because they are our first game in the Olympics."
Krzyzewski also denied he had revenge in mind against Greece, who dumped Team USA out of the 2006 World Championships.
"We want to win the gold medal and we don't accomplish it that way, by putting one game more important than another," he said.
USA have established a regular national team after previous embarrassments on the world stage when they were widely accused of under-estimating their opponents.
"We feel this is going to be the best Olympics yet because competition is at its best," Wade said.
"The international game is at its best and the American game is right there also. That's not our worry -- our focus is on the team Coach K has on the court."
Anthony said the additions of Bryant and Kidd had made the team "that much better. Now it's just a case of putting everything together on the court and doing what we've got to do to win that gold medal."
Krzyzewski said the team was well rested and raring to go despite a tough long-haul flight from Las Vegas. Anthony set a team record by sleeping all the way, he said.
"I feel great -- I slept 10 hours. That's more than I sleep at home. I'm going to get a plane put in my home," the coach joked.
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