USA Men's Basketball Team finally garnered the gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics Men's Basketball event, after a thrilling 107-100 over reigning European champions Spain. It was unexpectedly a very close match, too close for comfort that Team USA's lead margins never really wandered very far all game long. In fact it was a game that either Team USA or Spain could have won.
Spain opened up a scoring salvo led by gunner Juan-Carlos Navarro who struck and surprised the Americans' defense with quick and swift outside shots. He shot 12 of Spain's first 14 points.
Carmelo Anthony had to swoop in from the bench and puts his own version of a shooting spree to keep Team USA leading towards the half time.
From then on, both team, traded baskets and tested each other's focus and determination. In the end, it was Team USA's combination of guts and superior individual talents that reigned over the remarkably smooth and fluid offensive approaches of Spain.
It had to be pointed out that Team USA was definitely caught in an off shooting night. Despite ending the game with game high 30 points, Kevin Durant repeatedly missed three-pointers that he used to make with ease and constancy in previous games.
When the final buzzer signaled the end of the fourth and final period, Lebron James and the rest of the members of Team USA started to hop and jump and genuinely celebrated a glorious end to months of trainings and hard work. This final match with Spain proved to be more difficult than what was anticipated.
This year's edition of the US Dream Team had gained some criticism for being young and inexperienced, and was often compared unfavorably to the 1992 Dream Team that won the gold in Barcelona.
For a while there in the game between Team USA and Spain, the ghost of 2004 Athen's Olympics defeat had threatened to re-appear and leave American basketball fans heartbroken.
Team USA could not break away from an insistent swooping plays of Spain's wily guards who fakes and slide down the lane to snap two-pointers as easy as just walking in the park. Spain typifies that successful European team model; where most players could be spotted up at just about any area in the rainbow territory, and be expected to make the long shots, half of the time. Or pass the ball to a sliding big guy after a pick-and-roll move.
This was the main defensive challenge for Team USA, how to move quickly in defense, escaping and evading picks and move fast enough to keep up with the guards of the opposing team from gaining good stances for very quick jump shots.
For most of the game, Team USA had opted for a catch-and-shoot plays where players just stand by at a specific position waiting for a pass, and then shoot. Luckily, most of those shots went in.
It was clear that if not for the overpowering amount of skill and talent that consisted Team USA, the gold medal would have slipped away and render Spain as the eventual champion.
At this point, we need to take cognizance the increasing level of international basketball and Team USA should take some important notes for the succeeding world basketball events.
Definitely, Team USA should consider shooters that would match the tenacity and accuracy of international players and real big men who can both defend the inside lanes and rack up points from the post. That way, pressures on scoring guards would be lessened by a great mile.
And most of all, Team USA should insist on a fluid defense, to perfect the movements, and avoid offensive stagnations that could often risk their winning ways.