LONDON: US Olympic NBA stars booked a gold-medal rematch with reigning European champion Spain in tonight’s men’s basketball final by blowing out Argentina 109-83 on Friday.
Kevin Durant scored 19 points, while Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James added 18 each to lead the US multi-millionaires into a rematch of the 2008 Beijing Olympic final they won 118-107 over a similar Spanish squad full of NBA talent.
“This is the matchup everybody wanted to see,” said Anthony. “Any chance to repeat for a gold medal is a great feeling. Anything less than this would have been unsatisfying.”
The Americans reached the gold medal game for the 15th time in 17 attempts, having missed out in 1988 and 2004 after skipping the 1980 Moscow Olympics in a boycott. The US NBA stars seek a 14th all-time gold medal against a Spanish side that defeated Russia 67-59 in Friday’s other semi-final.
Argentina, led by 18 points from NBA star Manu Ginobili, will play Russia for the bronze medal after fading in the third quarter against a US onslaught.
“We started very well in the first half but once they started to get the shots in and started to run, they were just better,” said Argentina’s Carlos Delfino.
“When we made them play our game, we were close. They are masters, phenomenal, they play over the basket. When they are fit, they are unbeatable. They are the best in the world to run and shoot.”
Argentina ousted the US squad in a 2004 Athens Olympics semi-final on the way to capturing gold before the Americans returned the favour in Beijing. The US team improved to 61-1 since settling for bronze in 2004 and revamping the national team program with Mike Krzyzewski as coach and a versatile NBA all-star lineup.
“Anybody in this team can get going at any point — that’s the fun and dangerous thing about us,” added Anthony.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.