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Taurasi leads U.S. women’s basketball team, soaks up first London visit

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LONDON – Leading the U.S. women’s basketball team, Diana Taurasi also is eager to see Roger Federer play in the Summer Olympics and to experience Wimbledon and Wembley Stadium, two of this nation’s most celebrated sports venues.

“This is my first time in London,” said Taurasi, a Phoenix Mercury star and three-time Olympian.

Since arriving here, Taurasi has been inundated with messages from Arizona wishing her well after a lost WNBA season due to injuries.

“It feels good ’cause I feel like they can share this experience,” Taurasi said after the team’s Sunday morning practice. “Every time I go to the Olympics they really support me.”

Taurasi is key to the U.S.’s bid for a gold medal. In the team’s Olympic debut Saturday night against Croatia, she nailed two consecutive 3-pointers late in the first half to break open a close game in an 81-56 victory. It was the U.S.’s 34th straight win in Olympic play.

After playing only 36 minutes in the regular season, Taurasi’s status for the Olympics was questionable. But despite being off the court since May, she returned with a splash.

“Once you’re healthy you feel good and you just get into the works of things pretty easily and pretty quickly,” Taurasi said. “I had to get healthy first. I had a lot of trouble with my hamstring and hip flexor and quad, which, you know, is something I’ll probably have to deal with for the rest of my career”

Taurasi is seeking a third gold medal to accompany those she took home from the 2004 and 2008 Summer Games. The team plays Angola Monday in group play.

“Every Olympics is different,” Taurasi said. “Different city, different coach, different groups of players, so each one has its own flavor, and so far this one is a really cool experience so far. We’ve only played one game, but, you know, things are good. We take a lot of pride in coming here and showing the world how hard we’ve worked.”