U.S. gets past Spain, faces Ser­bia for gold

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - OLYMPIC GAMES - By Brian Ma­honey

RIO DE JANEIRO >> Gone was the all-of­fense, all-ac­tion play that turned the last two gold medal games into clas­sics.

To get by Spain again, the U.S. Olympic men’s bas­ket­ball team would have to win ugly, so un­usual it’s prac­ti­cally un-Amer­i­can.

“It was just a real dif­fer­ent game to­day,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. Same re­sult, though. The U.S. ad­vanced to its third straight gold medal game with an 82-76 vic­tory Fri­day, an­other tight matchup be­tween the teams that met in the last two cham­pi­onship games.

Klay Thomp­son scored 22 points for the Amer­i­cans, who will play Ser­bia on Sun­day for their third con­sec­u­tive Olympic ti­tle. Ser­bia beat Aus­tralia 87-61 in the sec­ond semi­fi­nal.

“This is where we wanted to be,” Kevin Du­rant said. “We talked about it all sum­mer, and to be here for the fi­nal game, to win the gold, for all the mar­bles, we like our chances.”

THE AMER­I­CANS pulled away to win 118-107 in 2008 and held on for a 107-100 vic­tory in Lon­don, but the de­fenses made their mark in this one. The U.S. was just good enough again against Spain, with bod­ies falling more than shots and sev­eral tech­ni­cal fouls keep­ing the teams from find­ing an of­fen­sive flow.

It cer­tainly wasn’t pretty, but Olympic gold never loses its lus­ter.

“It’s an amaz­ing feel­ing now,” cen­ter DeAn­dre Jor­dan said. “We really want to ac­com­plish this.”

It was the low­est-scor­ing game for the Amer­i­cans in the Olympics since the 2004 semi­fi­nals, when they man­aged 81 in a loss to Ar­gentina.

But Jor­dan made his pres­ence felt in the mid­dle with 16 re­bounds and four blocked shots to go with his nine points.

Du­rant added 14 points on the day he moved past LeBron James into sec­ond place on the U.S. Olympic ca­reer scor­ing list. Kyrie Irv­ing had 13 for the U.S.

Pau Gasol scored 23 points for Spain, which made it tough on the Amer­i­cans for the third straight Olympics, but again had to set­tle for com­ing close against the world’s No. 1 team.

“I think the key of the game was their de­fense,” Spain coach Ser­gio Scar­i­olo said. “Their ath­leti­cism, their size, they made our of­fense get dif­fi­cult dur­ing most of the pos­ses­sions.”

SPAIN SHOT just 39 per­cent and couldn’t get any con­sis­tent op­tion other than Gasol, who played with a wrap cover­ing his sore right calf.

Both teams were called for mul­ti­ple tech­ni­cal fouls in the tense first half. One of them, on Du­rant, gave him a third foul, as tech­ni­cals also count as per­sonal fouls in in­ter­na­tional play. Nikola Mirotic then picked up a per­sonal and tech­ni­cal on the same play later in the pe­riod, send­ing him to the bench with four af­ter he led Spain with 23 points in its quar­ter­fi­nal rout of France.

The Amer­i­cans were far off their usual of­fen­sive play, shoot­ing only 42 per­cent for the game and com­plain­ing about a wet ball in the first half. But they grabbed 21 of­fen­sive re­bounds in their 24th straight Olympic vic­tory.

Now they need one more to stay on top.

“You want to get there,” twotime gold medal­ist Carmelo An­thony said. “You want to have that feel­ing.”


The United States’ Klay Thomp­son drove to the bas­ket over Spain’s Pau Gasol in a men’s semi­fi­nal game on Fri­day.

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