Spain banged-up but still a threat to U.S. in decisive Olympic final
August 11, 2012Eastern Indiana Sports
LONDON -- The Olympic gold medal in men's basketball will represent a culmination for whomever happens to be wearing it Sunday night. For coach Mike Krzyzewski and Kobe Bryant, it will end their leadership roles with USA Basketball, as both are expected to retire from international competition. Neither they nor Bryant's teammates nor Krzyzewki's staff as well as Jerry Colangelo, who brought all of them together, are willing to accept a silver medal and the failure it would signify.
And yet, in spite of their overwhelming talent and ever-storming threat to destroy any opponent within the span of one fast-breaking minute or two, a victory is not inevitable for the Americans. Their opponent, Spain, appears to be approaching the final with an unspoken sense that it is meant to win a game like this.
"It just shows a lot of character, a lot of great spirit,'' said Pau Gasol of Spain's ascension to the final. "We know how to suffer.''
The Spaniards have been exceedingly unimpressive throughout the Olympic tournament. Their upset by Russia led to accusations that they lost their subsequent preliminary game to Brazil in order to position themselves for this final against these Americans. In the medal rounds France and Russia were in command before surrendering to Spanish comebacks in the second halves.