Damian Lillard reveals harsh reality Team USA is facing ahead of Tokyo Olympics
While Team USA won their latest pre-exhibition game against Argentina, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard admitted they are far from reaching their best condition and playing at their full potential.
To recall, Team USA lost their first two practice games against Nigeria and Australia, raising concerns if they can win gold in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Dame acknowledged they are not yet ready as a team, citing their lack of playing time together and the fact they still have to learn to play the international game–which has some key differences to the NBA.
“I think it’s been a process for all of us. None of us have ever really played together other than KD and Draymond. International game is so much different. Like, we trying to figure out how to play that game. And also how to be a team and not just a bunch of talented individuals,” the Team USA guard said, per Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com. “These other teams, they’ve been in camp longer than we have, they in better shape than we are right now. They’ve been playing as a team for years and years as a national team, so I think it just shows that the talent is getting better around the world and we’re just not going to roll out the ball and beat ‘em.”
While Damian Lillard revealed the tough and brutal reality Team USA is facing, he also gave a bit of a positive update for the team. According to the 31-year-old superstar, they are playing “into better shape” and “getting more comfortable with each other.” He also emphasized how he sees the rest of the team discovering their roles with the squad, something that is really crucial since not all of them can be the scorers and stars of the team.
As for the disappointing losses they have endured that sent the rest of the nation into a panic mode, Lillard said that he’s happy they played comeptitive basketball and got to experience losing now as they gear up physically and mentally for the Summer Games.
“Everybody is expecting us to just blow everybody out, I think it’s better that we experienced it now. Australia is a competitive team, Nigeria is a really good team this time around, they got NBA players out there. It’s better than us picking a few teams that we can just beat up on, we playing against good competition and teams that have experience together,” Lillard added.
“Obviously we don’t want to lose, we don’t want to be that team, but I think it’s better to happen now than for us to come out here, have it easy and then we go to Tokyo and just get our ass whooped.”