Spain failed to halt the continued dominance of the US men’s basketball team on Sunday, losing 107-100 to the stars of the NBA.
The victory marks America’s 14th win in the men’s tournament, a record that stretches back to the Berlin Olympics of 1936. In the 17 Olympics since, the US has won on all but four occasions, including Moscow in 1980 where the political upheavals of the Cold War meant that the nation refused to compete.
Kevin Durant embraces LeBron James at the buzzer
Kobe in flight. The Laker finished with 17 points
In the more recent professional era, which started with the Dream Team in 1992, the US have only failed to win once, being knocked out in the semi-finals by Argentina in Athens in 2004.
Apart from a slight scare against Lithuania, the Athens defeat rarely looked like being repeated in London, with the US showing plenty of intent by clocking up the biggest score in an Olympic basketball history during a one-sided run-around in their opening game against Nigeria.
Spain were a far harder proposition than the African team, boasting players who also earn their living in the NBA, most notably LA Laker Pau Gasol, alongside professionals from the teams in Madrid and Barcelona.
Boris and Arnie shoot the breeze during the game
Becks and the kids enjoy the action at the 'North Greenwich Arena'
At the break, the US led by only one point, 59-58 and looked less than comfortable against their European opponents, who were using their size advantage to considerable effect.
For the Americans, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant were among the points, but showed only glimpses of the free-scoring form of earlier rounds.
Circling the court, Spanish shirts dominated the sell-out O2 (or the “North Greenwich Arena” according to the sponsorship Gestapo), with the Americans in attendance preferring the drape of Old Glory allied to the occasional chant of "USA, USA…"
In the expensive seats, loyalties were more divided, with David Beckham, Arnie Schwarzenegger and London mayor Boris Johnson in attendance.
Becks and Arnie share European heritage, but are now firmly fixed in the US; Boris was born in the US, but is as English as a cucumber sandwich.
All three looked to be enjoying a game, which over the course of the second half, slowly but inevitably turned in favour the team in the white strip.
Chris Paul scored 11 points for the US
Carmelo Anthony celebrates the victory over Spain
Durant scored 30 points, while LeBron racked up 19 and Kobe 17. For Spain Pau Gasol top-scored with 24 points.
At the buzzer, “Born in the USA” bellowed from the speakers, as the multimillionaires of the NBA jumped, embraced and waved to the crowd.
It was a fitting if unsurprising end to a tournament that had proved one of the most entertaining of the Olympiad.
Questions will no doubt be raised about a competition that throws up the same winner almost every time.
In the press conference after the game, Coach K reminded everyone that despite the US having the most talented players, teams like Spain and Argentina "have a bond that's been built up over years… from playing together as teenagers".
"Argentina were a great team in 2004, and Spain were great tonight," he said. "They [Spain] could have won tonight."
He added: “The rest of the world has great players... it's something that people back home probably don't realise... That's why I'm so proud of my players."
As long as US basketball respects the rest of the world and prepares that way, we'll always have a great chance of winning."
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