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U.S. Retains Men’s Basketball Gold With 107-100 Win Over Spain

Sunday, 12 Aug 2012 12:42 PM

 

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Kevin Durant scored a game-high 30 points as the U.S. beat Spain 107-100 to successfully defend the men’s basketball gold medal title at the Olympics.

LeBron James of the National Basketball Association- champion Miami Heat added 19 points and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers had 17 for the U.S. Pau Gasol of the Lakers led Spain with 24 points.

Spain led late in the third quarter and trailed by one point as the final period began. The U.S. outscored Spain 24-18 in the final 10 minutes to put the game away.

The Americans have won 14 gold medals in the 17 Olympic tournaments they’ve entered and were undefeated London. Today’s match reprised their 2008 victory when they beat Spain 118-107 to win the gold. Spain pulled within two points late in that game before the U.S. pulled away.

Spain won five of the eight games they played in the tournament, losing to Brazil, Russia and the U.S. The team struggled to manage injuries of key players throughout the London 2012 games, coach Sergio Scariolo said on Aug. 10.

The U.S. last lost at the games in the 2004 semifinals, when Argentina won 89-81, going on to claim gold. Basketball debuted at the 1936 Berlin games.

The only time the U.S. has lost in the Olympic final was in the disputed 1972 gold-medal game when the Soviet Union won 51- 50.

Added Time

The Soviets won the gold in Munich in a game in which time was twice added in the final seconds by basketball officials.

The members of that U.S. team, feeling they were cheated, have refused to accept the silvers, which remain locked up at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Spain and the U.S. had met in two previous finals, with the U.S. winning in Beijing as well as in Los Angeles in 1984, when the Americans won 96-65.

Spain didn’t play well earlier in the tournament, losing two of their first seven games, to Brazil and Russia. The team struggled to manage injuries of key players throughout the London 2012 games, coach Sergio Scariolo said on Aug. 10.

The U.S. last lost at the games in the 2004 semifinals, when Argentina won 89-81, going on to claim gold. Basketball debuted at the 1936 Berlin games.

Olympic basketball admitted professionals after the Seoul Games in 1988. Dave Gavitt, the head of USA Basketball at the time, said the move “put the puck on our stick” by allowing top players from the National Basketball Association to go for gold.

‘Dream Team’

In 1992, the first games with the pros in place, the U.S. fielded the “Dream Team,’ featuring future Hall of Fame players such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and others.

It crushed the field and easily won the gold medal in Barcelona, and repeated the performance with undefeated runs in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000.

With the Olympic spotlight increasing, other nations started producing NBA-caliber players, if not whole teams. At the Athens Games in 2004, the U.S. lost for the first time wit NBA players in the lineup -- twice, in fact -- and took the bronze. Those losses led USA Basketball to change its selection process and put together a long-term national squad, not just an Olympic roster, to learn to play as a team under international rules.

The change worked. The “Redeem Team,’ with James and Bryant leading the way, stormed through the tournament in Beijing four years ago and beat Spain in the gold-medal game. Spain closed that one to two points late before Bryant and his teammates pulled away.


© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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