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Basketball - 11. April 2008.

RUS - `100%’ American Hammon ready to represent Russia

Becky Hammon video interview

MOSCOW (Olympics) - Becky Hammon has no hard feelings against the United States after failing to ever make their national team.

But the American-born guard of CSKA Moscow, who recently became a citizen of Russia, would sure like to make the USA regret not including her on their roster over the years by leading her adopted country to gold at the Olympics.

And that is true even if her team takes on the United States in a title decider and Russia have a chance to win at the end.

"When it comes down to it, I'm going to take that shot," the 31-year-old said to ESPN.Com.

"I'm going to play to win. You have to be honest to the game and yourself. Sure, it will be awkward, but I wouldn't have made this decision if I wasn't ready to take that shot."

Russia’s national team coach Igor Grudin will have Hammon in his squad during the preparation period and the high-scoring South Dakota native is widely expected to travel to Beijing with last year’s EuroBasket Women gold medal winners.

Hammon, who played for Europe at the EuroLeague Women All Star Game last month in the Moscow Region, was told that she would be considered for selection by the USA but was left with the impression that her chances of making the team for China were slim.

Having averaged 12.9 points per game for CSKA and shooting 44.9% (35 of 78) from long range in Europe’s elite club competition, Hammon would give Russia a threat on the perimeter that they have not enjoyed in the past.

She has attempted to defuse the controversy over her decision to play for Russia.

"I realize that people are going to think what they want to think," she said.

"But there's nothing I wanted more in my basketball career than to represent the United States,” she insisted. “I grew up dreaming to play in the Olympics for my home country.

"I'm sure they have their reasons. It's a very difficult job and I don't blame them for their decision. This is just a great opportunity for me to play in the Olympics ...”

Hammon has made a lot of good friends from Russia and other countries while playing for CSKA.

The experience has given her a different outlook on life.

She added that in representing the Russians, she would like to “hopefully break some stereotypes, both here and over there (United States)."

“Will I be playing for Russia? Yes,” she said. “But I'm absolutely 100% still an American. I love our country. I love what we stand for. This is an opportunity to fulfil my dream of playing in the Olympics."

FIBA

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