By Luke Hatfield
With less than a week to go until the third showing of NBA talent here on home soil, Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe is more than ready for the London showdown.
Taking on the New York Knicks, who are riding high in the Eastern conference with a 23-12 record, nine places above Detroit, Monroe feels that the game on British hardwood will be a great spectacle.
“All the guys are excited about playing in England,” he said, talking in a conference call with British journalists this week. “We definitely feel we could have gotten off to a better start in the NBA this season and now we’re just taking it a game at a time. We know we are here for a purpose and we’re always going to be focused on the game, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’re going to make sure we take care of things on the court.”
But the 22-year-old centre realises he will be facing up against to one of the league’s top teams and isn’t expecting an easy ride.
“They’re definitely one of the best teams in the league right now, they have veterans who know what it takes to win championships, Melo has been playing at an outrageous pace this year as well putting up unbelievable numbers. They definitely have the talent and a guy they can go to down the stretch to go on a run.”
With Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler returning to London for the first time since winning gold in the summer, Monroe doesn’t believe their experience of having played in the UK will give them an edge.
“I think both teams will still prepare just like any other game. It’s not like guys can just change on a plane ride, everybody in the league knows what everyone else can do. I don’t think that them being there in the summer will translate onto the court though as far as giving them an advantage.”
All in all though, Monroe sounds ready for his London experience; “This is the first time I’ve played basketball in another country; I’ve been looking forward to it,” he enthused. “It’s a great chance to get into London and play the game, the whole team is looking forward to it a whole lot.”
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