RIO DE JANEIRO — Carmelo Anthony was the last one to take the practice floor Friday, joining his U.S. teammates after wrapping up interviews where he was asked about everything from the opening ceremony to his diet.

He was in heavy demand.

With two Olympic gold medals and a chance to be the first men’s player to win three, Anthony has become the unlikely face of USA Basketball, a rise that couldn’t have been imagined 12 years ago.

This star-studded American squad, missing some big names but still ferocious, needed someone to show the way. And like Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant and Le- Bron James before him, Anthony has emerged as the ringleader.

“Carmelo is the veteran and a super-likable guy,” said Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. “We got 12 Alphas in here. But he’s the leader of this team and we follow him.”

The Americans’ journey to a probable gold medal begins Saturday against China, a team the U.S. drubbed by 49 and 50 points in two recent exhibitions.

Anthony, though, has warned his teammates not to take any opponent lightly. It’s a lesson he learned in his first Olympics at Athens in 2004, when the U.S. was stunned by Puerto Rico in the opener and then fell to Lithuania and Argentina while stumbling to a bronze – and worldwide embarrassment.

AS MANY AS 100 heads of state were expected to attend the first Olympics in South America, but only about 25 were expected Friday night – in large part because of very uncertain political times in Brazil.

For now, the country essentially has two presidents. Interim President Michel Temer took over following the suspension in May of President Dilma Rousseff on impeachment charges.

Among those who were expected in attendance: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

SOUTH KOREAN ARCHER Kim Woojin set a recurve world record with a score of 700 during the qualifying round.

A perfect score is 720, with archers shooting a total of 72 arrows. The results of the qualifying round are used determine the seedings for the bracketed tournament next week.

Of Kim’s 72 arrows, 52 were in the 10 ring, which is the highest score. He didn’t have an arrow score below a nine.

THE GREEK OLYMPIC committee said an unnamed member of the Olympic team failed a doping test in July in Athens and has left the Olympic village. Dozens of athletes failed doping tests at the previous two Olympics, most caught in recent retests of stored samples.

BRAZILIAN SOCCER LEGEND Pele, 75, says his poor health prevented him from participating in the opening ceremony.

In a statement, Pele said: “Only God is more important than my health. In my life, I’ve had fractures, surgeries, pain, hospital stays, victories and defeats. And I’ve always respected those who admire me.”

He apologized for disappointing Brazilians and says “as a Brazilian, I ask God to bless all who participate in this event.”

A MOROCCAN BOXER was arrested on allegations he sexually assaulted two Brazilian housekeepers in the Olympic Village.

Police said the possible attacks by Hassan Saada happened Wednesday. The women claim the 22-year-old boxer asked them to his room, then restrained and fondled them.

Saada will be jailed for 15 days while police investigate.