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Basketball - 31. January 2012.

USA - Bird: ‘We have to be ready’

EKATERINBURG (Olympics) - The United States women will be favored to win gold for the fifth consecutive time at the Olympics when they travel to Britain this summer.

The squad is not short on star power, both in terms of players and coaches.

What the Americans will face is the obstacle of limited preparation time, but this is nothing new.

“Obviously, the USA team - it's a little bit different because we all play in the WNBA,” said veteran point guard Sue Bird, a long-time star with the Seattle Storm, the team that selected her first overall in the 2002 draft.

The 31-year-old is now playing in Europe with UMCC Ekaterinburg.

“I overhear some of my teammates (in Europe) talking and they start training in May or June,” Bird said.

“We'll (USA) meet for three days in May, maybe, and we'll have a week and a half, two weeks before the Olympics and that's it.

“For all of us, we have to be ready.”

Bird has a good idea of how the next several months will play out.

She will finish the campaign with UMMC, playing in the EuroLeague Women and the Russian league, and then head back across the Atlantic for another WNBA season.

The WNBA will run up to July 13 before taking a break for just over month, which allows various players to join their national sides for the Olympics.

The women’s tournament at the London Games will run from July 28 to August 11.

Bird had virtually no preparation time before the 2010 FIBA World Championship.

She travelled to the Czech Republic just days after capturing a WNBA crown with Seattle.

Game 3 of the 2010 WNBA Finals was played on September 16, and the World Championship tipped off on September 23.

Where USA Basketball has been smart is the commitment to training camps at home and abroad, and tours.

“We've proven that we can do it,” Bird said.

“It's difficult, but we know we can do it and I think we have the right players to get a gold medal again.”

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