The U.S. held off a resurgent Spanish squad to win the gold in London, 107-100. Spain’s offensive explosion gave the U.S. all they could handle in a thrilling game that featured some marvelous performances on both sides. Kevin Durant drained five 3-balls to lead all scorers with 30 points, and Lebron James stepped up, again, with 19. Spain got 24 from Pau Gasol, and 21 from Juan-Carlos Navarro, who was hot early and cold late. Pau also led his squad with 7 assists by passing out of double teams, and pulled down 8 boards. Kevin Love, who was his usual monstrous self on the boards, tied with Durant and Spain’s Serge Ibaka for the game lead in rebounds with 9.
This game was intense, with hard fouls and tough picks galore. There was much jawing at the referees, but mercifully they did not decide the game. Each team had 27 fouls, which is too many and damaged the pace of the game, but the vast majority were good calls. Perhaps the key play of the game was Marc Gasol’s fourth foul, one short of the international limit, in Q2. Despite sitting out much of the second half, Marc ended up with 17 points in the same number of minutes, leaving the Spanish with a sickening “what might have been” feeling. Brother Pau picked up the offensive slack, scoring on a variety of dandy spin moves down low. However, the Spanish outside shooting, so important to them early, never returned.
The Americans bent, but didn’t break, losing the lead a number of times but always roaring back. Yet when the game appeared to be spinning away from the Spaniards, they settled down, ran their offence, and keep it close. The American lead was 8 after Q1, but only a single point after Q2 & 3. U.S. runouts were limited by the Spaniards, who fouled the ball handler before he could make the key pass to the open man.
The Raps’ Jose Calderon had a quiet game, taking (and missing) one shot in 17+ minutes of PT. His defensive shortcomings were apparent on several occasions, most notably when Kobe Bryant blew past him for an easy slam.
Ultimately the U.S., the tournament’s best team, won the gold medal. They needed to play very well to do so, and as a hoops fan, it’s difficult to ask for more.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.