July 26, 2012
By Lia Crawford
With the Olympics to look forward to, Team USA nears the end of their exhibition run. Other than a couple of ups and downs, including a tough 6-point win over Argentina, Team USA plowed through their exhibition games undefeated.
After their 100-78 win against Spain in Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday night, Team USA heads into the Olympics with a 5-0 record and an average victory margin of almost 27 points.
Carmelo Anthony led the team with 27 points, 23 of which were in the first half, while LeBron James closely trailed with 25. After barely beating Spain in a close 118-107 gold medal game in 2008, this game proved to be easier for the Americans.
Pau Gasol scored 19 points and Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka added 16 for Spain, but they still couldn’t stop Team USA who ended the exhibition games on a great note.
Their few close games, however, have kept men’s basketball fans on the edge of their seats. One of these games was the 86-80 victory over Argentina last Sunday. Kevin Durant scored 27 points for the US squad in Barcelona.
Though Team USA looked like the Dream Team with their 1992 throwback uniforms on Sunday, they didn’t breeze through Barcelona like their predecessors.
After starting off strong, the Americans’ lead was cut to 4 with about 3 minutes left after NBA player, Manu Ginobili’s, 3-point play. Chris Paul and Durant both hit 3-pointers in the last minutes of the game to seal the Team USA victory.
Kobe Bryant added 18 points while James added 15 for the team. James, however, thinks that the close games are a positive rather than a negative for Team USA.
He told ESPN, “I love it. You hate to breeze through exhibition games and then you get into London, and then you start getting competitive. So we have a very good team. It doesn’t matter about how many points you win by, you just want to play well and get better that night, and I feel like we got better tonight.”
After the physical and tiring game against Argentina, they not only became better but the team who they will meet again in London likely wore them out.
Looking forward to the Olympics, Team USA will face off in the preliminary rounds against top teams like France, Lithuania and Argentina.
If the Americans can earn victories in the first round, they still do not have an easy path to an Olympic victory. The team then would face potential opponents such as Spain, Brazil and China.
Looking at opponents’ rosters, Team USA has an obvious advantage of talent but teams are looking to upset the Americans. With NBA talent, France with five legitimate NBA players including Spur’s star Tony Parker, these teams could possibly dethrone the superstars of Team USA.
So with a few close victories, Team USA is set to start their Olympic run and hopefully continue their undefeated streak and bring home the gold.