LONDON - Alexey Shved wears braces on his teeth and a band in his hair. As he spoke late Sunday night in London, he twisted his sweatjacket wistfully around his neck, giving the impression of a teenager waiting for a ride to the school dance.
His game, though, looked very mature. Shved and veteran Russian star Andrei Kirilenko led the Russians to a 95-75 victory over Great Britain on the opening day of the Olympic tournament, and they may have made as big an impact on Timberwolves fans as their countrymen.
Shved and Kirilenko both recently signed with the Timberwolves. Sunday, they displayed innate chemistry and skill sets that should immediately prove valuable to their new professional team.
Shved played mostly at point guard and finished with 16 points and 13 assists, many of those to Kirilenko, who finished with 35 points on 14-for-17 shooting. "Look at me,'' Kirilenko said, exulting after the game. "I am running like a young deer.''
Kirilenko, the former Utah Jazz standout, kept gushing, about his health, Shved and the offense run by Wolves coach Rick Adelman.
"I think Minnesota is ready to take a step and make the playoffs,'' he said.
Of Adelman, he said: "I know Rick from back in Sacramento. They had a great, great team at the time. For me, it looks like European flavoring ... a lot of European guys, a lot of guys who can run the floor, and Alexey is another big plus.''
Shved, 23, said he didn't begin playing point guard until last summer. Now he handles the ball most of the time for the Russian national team but said he is comfortable at either guard position.
Kirilenko's presence in Minnesota will make him comfortable, too. "I know one Russian player is coming over, my friend, which is very nice for me,'' Shved said. "It's my first year, he can help me.''
Shved threw no-look passes, alley-oops and even one between-the-legs bounce pass.
Asked to evaluate Shved, Kirilenko said: "You see him tonight? It's a process. I can't tell you how he's going to adjust to the NBA, because it takes time. I know myself, when I was young, I went through those steps. But as long as he puts himself into the work, he's going to be great. He's got all the tools.''
The two new Wolves remind themselves that they'll be playing together long after the Olympic tournament ends.
"I said, prepare, right now, for Minnesota, this is how you're going to find me,'' Kirilenko said. "I think he's doing a pretty good job. Last year we played together, and we have a connection.''