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Olympics spurs on Mills in NBA mission

He missed out on Olympic Games bling but Patrick Mills and the San Antonio Spurs are on a mission to ''achieve greatness'' and believe they have the firepower to win an NBA championship ring.

And while Mills established himself as an international star in London, the point guard says he still has to prove he belongs in the world's best league.

The world of NBA megabucks and superstars is a long way from the Australian Boomers' Olympic campaign when Mills was the go-to man.

Just two months after leading all scorers in London and earning praise from some of the greats of the game, Mills is back fighting for spare minutes on the San Antonio bench.

At the Olympics he was on the court for almost every minute, averaged 21.2 points a game and hit a spectacular game-winning three-pointer against Russia.

It showed he could be a starting point guard on the international stage and that remains his goal.


But instead of being frustrated with limited opportunities in the US, Mills is prepared to use the small amount of court time he gets to show glimpses of brilliance behind star Tony Parker.

''It's a big year for trying to prove myself,'' Mills told The Canberra Times from San Antonio. ''I still feel like I've got a lot of things to prove, my future goal is wanting to be a starting point guard somewhere.

''I'm really happy where I am now, I know what I need to do but I feel there are a lot of things I need to prove to everyone.''

Mills joined the Spurs halfway through last season and signed a new two-year deal before his superb efforts in London.

The 24-year-old hopes the stability the Spurs have provided will propel him to his best NBA campaign.

The Spurs' championship dreams ended when they were knocked out by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the western conference play-offs.

With a team of veteran stars including Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, Mills says the Spurs are desperate for redemption.

''This team has hardly changed … we're on a mission,'' he said.

''[Coach Gregg Popovich] said we achieved a decent job last year, but now we want to achieve greatness. That's winning a championship.''

For the first time in his career, Mills is set to benefit from a settled pre-season.

He had a minor hiccup when he sprained his ankle two weeks ago, but that was nothing compared to the rollercoaster journey he's been on since being drafted in 2009.

On his first day of NBA practice with the Portland Trail Blazers, he broke his foot.

When he returned the following year, he was fighting for a roster spot and was only offered a contract five days before the start.

Last year was ruined by the NBA lockout and a horror playing stint in China.

But with his off-court life settled and the Olympics still fresh in his mind, Mills is primed for big things.

NBA royalty Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski heaped praise on Mills for his Olympic performances, which included a 26-point haul against the eventual goal-medal winners.

Playing for Australia, Mills is the superstar. Alongside Spurs future hall-of-famers Parker, Duncan and Ginobili, he is in the background.

But the speedy guard says he'll keep the aggressive scoring approach that made him so successful in London.

''I've got to be a demanding point guard, a general and [Gregg Popovich] wants that from me,'' Mills said.

''He wants me to do what I've done for Australia and bring it to the Spurs … Pop wants me to the shoot the ball when I'm open.

''The message Tommy, Manu and Tony gave is to play the way I do because they know I can shoot and when it comes from that directly, it makes it easier to just play.''