Spain hold head high as US win gold in basketball

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The gold medal may have eluded the Spanish team on Sunday, but the thrilling 118-107 loss left players feeling good about the game.

25 August 2008

MADRID - Spain came within a whisker of upsetting basketball's world order on Sunday before succumbing 118-107 to the United States in the Olympic final.

The game pitted the unbeaten stars of the NBA against Spain's world champions, who suffered a humiliating 119-82 loss to the USA in the group round.

But there was no such thrashing this time. The United States led by 14 points on one occasion, its technical superiority telling, but when Rudy Fernández netted a three-pointer with eight minutes left on the clock, there were only two points in it.

However, Kobe Bryant put the gold medal out of Spain's reach with a pair of cool three-pointers, and as the last three minutes ticked down the result was clear.

The American players were delighted when the final buzzer sounded.

"USA is back on top again" said LeBron James afterwards. "Respect to Spain. They were unbelievable. We had a game plan and they countered with incredible plays."

Bryant, meanwhile highlighted the USA's spirit: "Everyone talks about 'arrogant' NBA players but what you saw today was us facing adversity and bonding together."

Bryant's LA Lakers teammate Pau Gasol, who has been the star of the Spanish squad during the Olympics, scotched rumours that he might step down from the national team at the age of 28, insisting he has "plenty of gas still in the tank." And while the gold medal eluded him, he was still upbeat.

"Although we lost, we are leaving with a good feeling and with the impression that this team can beat anyone," he said.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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