LONDON — The United States has won the men’s Olympic basketball gold medal at the London Games. The victory in the final over Spain did not come easy.
The final on the scoreboard read USA 107, Spain 100, a seven-point victory in a game that was tightly contested throughout.
This was a rematch of the gold medal game in Beijing four years ago when United States defeated Spain by 11 points.
Here, Team USA, with a roster full of National Basketball Association stars, led by only one point at halftime and also by a single point at the end of the third quarter.
Spain held leads at various times in each of the first three quarters, but when the pressure was on in the fourth quarter, the USA was able to come through.
NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James of the league champion Miami Heat scored on a key dunk and then a critical three-point field goal with only about two minutes to play. “It was a big shot, but there were a lot of big shots in our game, you know, it was not just mine. There were a bunch of big plays for us offensively and defensively. I’m happy that I was able to be put in that position to be able to come through for my teammates," he said.
James scored 19 points overall. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder led Team USA with 30 points and he also grabbed nine rebounds. Durant said he was not surprised that Spain, which has four NBA players on its roster, was such a difficult opponent. "You know they’re bigger than us. They’ve been playing together for awhile. They execute. It seems like every time we made a mistake they capitalized on it, so it taught us a lot. And as the game went on we made some adjustments and were able to get a good win," he said.
Durant is one of the younger U.S. team members at only 23, and a first time Olympian. “It means a lot. To fight for your country is the ultimate honor. Not too many people get this opportunity. So we didn’t want to take it for granted, this whole moment we didn’t want to take it for granted. I’m glad we were able to come out and do our best and win this thing for the U.S.," he said.
Spanish player Jose Calderon said the USA has great players throughout its line-up. “They have so many guys who can score, and so many guys who can shoot the ball. It’s tough to pick who can shoot the ball better sometimes, so you’ve got to give credit to them, for sure. They’re one of the best teams, they’ve been now for two Olympics in a row. But I think we showed everybody we can still play basketball," he said.
In the men’s basketball bronze medal game, Russia won a close contest over Argentina, 81-77.