LONDON (AP) - The Dream Team 2012 won the gold against a familiar opponent. Again.
|image courtesy of NBA Philippines|
The '92 Dream Team made basketball more relevant internationally. This year’s Team USA didn’t just prove that, they also show us how far they are from the pack.
The world number 1 Team USA fought off another big challenge from the world number 2 Spain, pulling away in the final minutes for a 107-100 win to bag their second straight Olympic gold last Sunday. And much like in 2008 Beijing Olympics, the American had to earn it.
Spain lost twice in the preliminary round and an 11-point halftime deficit against Russia in the semis’ halftime after scoring just 20 points, which is just on average, seven minutes worth of work for the USA. But Spain rallied with its twin towers of Gasol brothers and sweet shooting of Navarro for a 67-59 victory.
USA on the other hand, had a different kind of story heading to the semis. They get through opponents with large margins (with the exception of Lithuania) by pulling away late in the third or middle of the fourth.
But last Sunday’s Olympic gold match is off to the history books, as the scrappy Spaniards come with a fight.
USA lead Spain for only 1 point after 3 Quarters, it was a back-and-forth, physical, and impossible to dismiss finals and fans inside the North Greenwich Arena certainly got their money’s worth.
Juan Carlos Navarro was brilliant in the first half, especially in the first quarter where he scored 13 of his team’s 20 from three straight 3s. But the American’s perimeter defense picked off, and he wasn’t as effective in the second half as he was in the first half. He scored a total of 21.
Pau Gasol wasn’t a major factor for Spain in the first half, but his 13 points in the third were huge to keep his team close.
Kevin Love, on the other hand, may not jump off the stat sheets, but he kept on sending Marc Gasol to the bench because of foul-trouble with brilliant box-out and positioning.
Spain gave the US all they could handle, and the American just got enough breathing room late in the Fourth Quarter. Kevin Durant scored 30 points and 9 rebounds to lead the victory. Pau Gasol, on the other hand, gained the respect of the opposing team again with 24 points and 8 rebounds to keep Spain close to route.
Both teams got frustrated with the officiating, and it was a physical game as expected. Marc Gasol for example, was called for his fourth foul in the middle of the second quarter.
Both teams kept their poise heading to the fourth Q, but team USA spread their lead with under a minute to go, which all started from Lebron James’ monstrous get-away dunk and a dagger clutch 3.
Paul’s zig-zag drive to the basket in 50-second mark gives them an 11 point gap, and coach Mike Kryzewski of the United States responded with massive substitutions, sending James Harden and the current number 1 draft Anthony Davis to the court, as Bryant and James started their celebrations on the bench.
Earlier on that day, Russia also bagged the bronze with an 81-77 win against the 2004 Olympics champions, Argentina.