There will be no changing of the guard in 2012. Team USA prevailed and won back-to-back Olympic gold medals after defeating Spain 107-100 in front of a packed and adoring stadium.
The match turned out to be a fitting end to the London games with one versus two vying off for the treasured prize. It was a rematch (Beijing Olympics) in every way. Could there have been a better curtain call? I doubt it.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 30 points. LeBron James contributed 19 and Kobe Bryant 17 as they fought back a determined challenge from the Spaniards.
The debate about whether this USA side is better than the 1992 Dream Team will once again rise, discussions will be had within households, in offices and on the outdoor courts right across the globe. What the ’92 team didn’t have though was the level of competition delivered throughout these 2012 games, particularly in the gold medal playoff.
In a game that was overly officiated, it proved to be very physical – but then again, the winner was going to be crowned champion and awarded with a gold medal. You couldn’t expect anything less.
Spain were led admirably early on by Juan Carlos Navarro (21 points) who was dynamite from outside before Pau Gasol (24 points) brought the Europeans back into the game, at times taking the lead. In the final quarter and a half, Gasol was an unstoppable beast.
Players from both sides were forced to sit due to foul troubles, a factor that really hurt Spain with Marc Gasol missing crucial minutes due to his four fouls.
The fact of the story was that when Spain came hard and applied great pressure, the Americans would hit back hard with big baskets including a James deep three late in the game. Team USA stepped up massively in the final quarter and were able to put the brakes on Spain who failed to score 20 points in the quarter.
The win was a fantastic sendoff for coach Mike Krzyzewski and superstar guard Kobe Bryant after both declaring that the game would be their last for the national side.