Basketball: U.S. down Spain to reach men's gold medal final
By Steve Keating
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The United States continued their reign over Spain with a scrappy 82-76 win on Friday to put them through to the gold medal final of the men's basketball tournament for a third straight Olympics.
The Americans will ride a 24-game Olympic winning streak into Sunday's final where they will take on tiny Serbia who will play for gold for the first time as an independent nation.
Serbia stormed to an early lead then held on to rout Australia 87-61 to send the Olympic debutants through to the final.
"Based on this game and also the previous game against the United States, I think we can hope we are going to match up pretty good," said Serb center Miroslav Raduljica. "I think we showed in our last game that they are not unbeatable. I think we know how to play against them."
With the two top-ranked teams, number one U.S. and number two Spain, both packed with NBA talent, the game had the familiar buzz of a gold medal final. The countries met to decide the gold at the previous two Olympics in London and Beijing, with the U.S. coming out on top both times.
"What I would say it was a very hard game," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters. "It wasn't easy flowing and both teams had to make big plays.
"I thought our guys did that a little bit more than they did."
The United States led from the opening tip-off but were never able to run away from a Spanish squad determined to end decades of frustration that has seen them lose all 12 meetings with the U.S. team on Olympic or world championship hardwood dating back to 1936. Continued...