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Boozer and Williams named to U.S. Olympic basketball team

Boozer and Williams named to U.S. Olympic basketball team

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By BROCK VERGAKIS Associated Press Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz were chosen Monday to play on the U.S. Olympic basketball team.

Utah is the only NBA team with two players on the squad.

The last time the Jazz had two players on a national team was 1996, with Karl Malone and John Stockton. Williams said it's flattering to be compared to that famous duo, but they're not quite there yet.

"It's just another stepping stone for me and Carlos, though. This is a big deal for us to be on this team," he said. "It brings us closer, but we're still far away."

Boozer and Williams will play with LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and eight other NBA stars.

The team was selected from a pool of 33 players without a tryout. It will have a minicamp this week in Las Vegas and gather again in late July to train and play an exhibition against Canada.

The Americans open Olympic play against China on Aug. 10.

Although the Americans captured gold at the Sydney Games in 2000, they no longer dominate international play. The talent gap has narrowed, and many top players have chosen to skip the national team in recent years.

Boozer and Williams are supposed to be part of the solution.

Boozer, one of only three NBA players to rank in the top 20 in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage, brings some international experience that previous teams were missing. He played with the 2004 Olympic team that won the bronze medal in Athens, Greece.

"I'm so honored to be on this team, and it's going to be exciting to have my teammate along side of me. For the guys who were in Athens, we have a chance to redeem ourselves," Boozer said in a statement. "I can't wait to get started."

Boozer, a forward, is a two-time NBA all-star who finished the past season averaging 21.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He also has the ninth-best shooting percentage in the NBA at 54.7 percent.

Williams has more limited international experience, seeing some playing time on Team USA during the FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas in 2007.

Williams, a point guard, was third on the depth chart last summer and isn't expected to start on this year's Olympic team. Still, he's happy to contribute, even if it means limited playing time.

"Everyone wants to play. At the same time, I'm not going to complain if I don't," he said. "Hopefully it all works out."

Williams shot 50.7 percent during the regular season while averaging 18.8 points and 10.5 assists. He played in all 82 games in his third year in the NBA, then had an even stronger postseason for the Jazz.

He led the team in scoring with 21.6 points per game and averaged 10 assists.

When Boozer and Williams get to Beijing, they'll see another Jazz man: Andrei Kirilenko is playing for Russia.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-06-23-08 1802MDT

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