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Brewer returns to London as leader for Minnesota

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LONDON (AP)

Corey Brewer wasn't in position to do much sightseeing or mentoring the first time he went to London with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He's looking to do plenty of both this time around.

The new-look Timberwolves are returning to England this weekend at the start of the NBA Europe Live preseason tour, with Brewer one of two holdovers from the team that lost to the Boston Celtics at the O2 Arena in 2007.

Back then, Brewer was a rookie and too busy adapting to life in the NBA to see much more than the Big Ben.

''I didn't get to do a lot,'' Brewer said in a phone interview Wednesday. ''It was my rookie year, so I was exhausted. So I'm going to try and go out sightseeing this time.''

That won't be his only goal. At 24, Brewer is now one of the veterans on the league's youngest team and is looking to provide some much-needed leadership on a trip he sees as the perfect bonding exercise.

''I feel like I have to be more of a leader on this team. They're a bunch of young guys and these guys are learning this offense, and I've been through it for a year,'' Brewer said. ''So I feel like I have to have a bigger role as a leader. But that's not a bad thing, it's a good thing.''

So is going overseas, he said, even though it means a lot of hours on planes and in hotels.

''You've got to have your chemistry, you've got to learn your teammates,'' said the forward, who averaged a career-high 13 points last season after missing much of 2008-09 because of a knee injury. ''And it's always good to get to know each other. And what better way to do it than to go to another country?''

Minnesota leaves for England on Thursday and plays the Los Angeles Lakers at the O2 on Monday. The team then travels to France to play the New York Knicks in Paris on Oct. 6 to wrap up what has become an annual European preseason tour for the NBA.

The first regular-season NBA games in Europe will be played in March between the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets at the O2 as the league looks to increase its fan base overseas.

For the Timberwolves, the trip is more about forming an identity.

Only five players remain from the team that won 15 games last season, with the newcomers including Michael Beasley, Luke Ridnour, Martell Webster and Anthony Tolliver, along with three rookies.

''We're still looking for an identity, but I think this year we're going to be a lot better defensively and we're going to be a lot more athletic,'' Brewer said. ''So we're going to be really fun to watch. And we've got some good pieces, we've got some guys who can really score.''

The games in Europe will provide a first answer as to whether they can also play together, and Minnesota couldn't get a much tougher test than the defending champion Lakers.

Kobe Bryant and his team is undoubtedly the biggest draw for the London fans, but Brewer insisted that there's lots of good reasons to come out and support the underdogs as well.

''If you like good basketball, young guys who are really playing hard,'' he said, ''then you're going to see a lot of dunks and a lot of good basketball if you go to see the Timberwolves.''

Tagged: Lakers, Timberwolves, Corey Brewer

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