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Kemba Walker remains enthusiastic, undeterred by Team USA dropouts

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By Janiel Abby Toralba

Despite many NBA superstars in the likes of Anthony Davis, James Harden, and CJ McCollum turning down the chance to play for Team USA, there are still some players who view this as their golden ticket of opportunity to represent their country. Team USA has already started their training camp as part of their preparation for the FIBA World Cup.

One of the players who is grateful to be part of the roster is Boston Celtics’ Kemba Walker.

“This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of us,” Kemba Walker told reporters in Las Vegas. “I think a lot of us are happy those guys pulled out because this is our chance.”

“It’s our chance to get on the big stage and showcase our talent. A chance for us to do something new. It’ll be a new-look team. Everybody is kind of doubting us, but I think we’re hungry.”

The players who attended the training camp which started last Tuesday (Manila time) alongside Walker were Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Lowry, Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma, Khris Middleton and many more.

“I’ve said that we’re going to be fine and by that what I really meant is that we’re blessed with a lot of depth in USA Basketball,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich reassured. “All of the players here want to be here, there’s no question about it. And that’s a big part of the battle itself. And so, when you look at the enthusiasm, the youth, the athleticism and versatility, that’ll really work well for us because our depth will be a factor.”

He also pointed out that these players can deliver well and are already doing a great job at their first practice.

“These are not ‘C’ players. You’ve heard a lot of criticism about who isn’t here, and I keep repeating that it’s about who is here,” Popovich emphasized. “There’s some really good talent and it’s going to be difficult getting to a 12-man roster when you really think about it. So, every day is important to these players and I would say today’s effort was terrific. We had a great first day of practice. Certain individuals did an outstanding job. Overall, it was terrific.”