Team USA basketball, like its counterparts in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 lives in the shadow of the 1992 team — the Dream Team, which made its fame in Barcelona, Spain.
The Dream Team featured mostly future hall of famers and rolled easily to a gold medal. While Team USA has taken three more Olympic gold medals since then, each team has been compared to that first squad of superstars. The 2012 team though, thinks its worthy of making its own reputation, and fittingly played its final Olympic tune-up event Tuesday in Barcelona, defeating Spain 100-78.
The Associated Press reports that the U.S. and Spain are favored by most to face off for the gold medal before all is said and done, and its easy to see why Spain is seen as a threat to the world’s No. 1 basketball power. The top seven players on the Spanish team have NBA experience. Paul Gasol and Serge Ibaka helped Spain to a significant height advantage inside.
Spain’s roster also boasts the talented Juan Carlos Navarro and Rudy Fernandez, certainly recognizable names to NBA players. Team USA, however, includes Kobe Bryan, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Anthony Davis, among others.
Anthony was the star on Tuesday, scoring 27 points on five three-pointers. James chipped in 25 points and Durant scored 13. Gasol led Spain with 19 points and five rebounds.
“I thought we played extremely well. Carmelo (Anthony) was sensational. I thought his play in the first quarter and second period was the difference in the game,” Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewskisaid in a recap posted on USA Basketball’s website. “Carmelo kind of kept us in it and our bench kept us in. We got a really good performance from Kevin Love – double-figure rebounds. We shared the ball well in the second half. We were very pleased with the win.”
Though the U.S. won on Tuesday, it more than likely won’t be the last time we see Team USA vs. Spain on the world stage.