12 August 2012
The United States and Spain gave a virtuoso performance during the Olympic basketball final in London. Both national teams repeated the final in Beijing in 2008 and exceeded expectations that the game had created, with the Spanish national team showing hard work and perseverance throughout the game against the great Golden-medal team. The United States celebrated a trophy which the national team didn't give away easily and hadn't been decided until the last quarter. Real Madrid players Rudy Fernández, Sergio Llull, Sergio Rodríguez and Felipe Reyes played a very important role in the final and managed to win the Silver medal for Spain in the Olympics for the third (and second consecutive) time.
The game began with similar scores for both teams, with two very notable figures in each team. Durant (12) easily scored getting the ball in either by penetrating the defence or from the perimeter and Navarro, with three triple pointers, took charge of the Spanish attack with 14 points in the first quarter. The Americans went forward on the scoreboard thanks to their success at 6.75 (six out of nine in triple pointers) and the contribution of Carmelo Anthony from the bench with eight points, concluding the first run with 35-27.
With Sergio Rodríguez on the court the second period began and Spain saw its best moments. A run of 2-12 by the national selection turned things around on the scoreboard (37-39), with five points from the Real Madrid point guards and another five from Rudy, including as spectacular alley-oop between both which completed the White's small forward. Llull scored another triple pointer in another good Spanish run which gave Scariolo's team the lead again (43-44). Good defence by Le Bron James' team and their success in attacking drove them forward on the scoreboard in the second quarter, but Spain recovered again and won the quarter with 24-31, the top scorer being Rudy with 12 points. By half-time the scores were almost identical with the Americans only slightly ahead (59-58), although they didn't seem to be comfortable on the court.
After the game had begun again, it was Spain's top scorer in the tournament who ensured Spain's dream carried on. Nine consecutive points for the NBA player Pau Gasol, for a total of 15 points in this third quarter, meant the national team were 3 points ahead at the beginning. Ibaka, with great strength as Marc had four personal fouls, took a shot at the USA's internal game by scoring seven points which, with a push from Kevin Durant who was able to score from all distances, ensured Real Madrid kept their lead. Sergio Rodríguez leapt onto the court, bringing with him speed and good judgement for Spain's game. With the Real Madrid point guards stealing the ball twice, they ensured the two teams drew once again (80-80) and during the last period the United States took the lead by one point (83-82).
With the four Real Madrid players on the court, the last period began during which more points were scored, above all by the Spaniards. Two good moves by Paul and the constant success of Durant (30 points during the game) and Bryant meant they secured a lead of 10 points. Spain continued fighting and great defence by Llull meant that Durant couldn't score, but James took over and with a slam dunk and a triple pointer he ensured his team were nine points ahead with 1:52 minutes to go (102-93), which put winning out of the Spaniards' reach.