USA Basketball Advance Past Argentina, Into Gold Medal Match Versus Spain
The USA men's basketball team played Argentina in the group stage of the Olympic tournament. It was a close game through one half, then the Americans seized control in the latter stages to win comfortably. Today's semifinal followed the same script, with the US winning 109-83.
At the halftime intermission, it was still anybody's game with Argentina only down seven points, 47-40. It looked like the Argentine defense was in position to hold the US under 100 and, if the jumpers fell, make a run at the game. The US promptly shut the door in the second half, outscoring Argentina 62-43 in the final 20 minutes behind a barrage of three point shots.
Leading the charge for the United States was Kevin Durant with 19 points (7-14 FG, 5-10 3FG). Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James each had 18 points for the Americans, with Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul also in double figures. As a team, the US shot 53%, including an 18-42 (43%) clip from behind the three point line.
In a losing effort, Manu Ginobili had 18 points, while fellow NBA players Carlos Delfino and Luis Scola each had 15 for Argentina.
The lack of size the team possesses, normally a point of concern, was anything but for the USA, as they outrebounded Argentina 40-23 in the game. Kevin Love led the team with 9 boards in just 16 minutes, and no Argentine had more than five for the game. It was a brilliant performance on the glass, something they will need to sustain in the gold medal game.
In said gold medal game, the US will take on Spain, who defeated Russia in the day's first semifinal matchup by a score of 67-59. Pau Gasol led the way for Spain with 16 points and 12 rebounds, as Spain came back from an 11 point halftime deficit in which they only scored 20 points.
After the game, Spain celebrated the win rather demonstratively, while the US was very calm after their victory. I found it to be indicative of what the expectations are for these two teams heading into Sunday's game. For Spain, just getting to the final is a triumph given the talent they are about to face. For the United States, it is gold or bust.