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Not so easy as it looked for US men

Last updated on: August 13, 2012 15:40 IST

Not so easy as it looked for US men

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The US men's and women's basketball teams made their expected sweep of London gold but it was not an open and shut case for the NBA stars in a tough test in the gold medal game against a polished Spain team.

-London Olympics 2012 - Complete coverage

The US men made it look easy through most of the tournament with some extraordinary 'hybrids' -- supremely talented players able to thrive in a variety of roles.

A spate of injuries before the final US training camp robbed the American men of some of their most potent pivot men, including Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh.


Image: Gold medallists Tyson Chandler of the United States and Kevin Durant of the United States celebrate on the podium
Photographs: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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US let their NBA talents do the rest

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That left the rough-edged Tyson Chandler as the team's only true centre and a creative mix of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony teaming up with Kevin Love filled the breach with coach Mike Krzyzewski conducting the crew with a most subtle hand.

The scoring prowess of three-point supremo Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant made it relatively smooth, with seven wins taken by an average of 35 points until the Americans came up against a legitimate challenge in the final against Spain.

That tooth and nail fight against an inspired Spanish team with a big advantage in low post height carried into the fourth quarter with only one point separating the Beijing finalists before the Americans prevailed 107-100 to retain their crown.


Image: Kobe Bryant of the United States and team mate Tyson Chandler celebrate
Photographs: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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'We just roll out the damn ball'

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Credit Krzyzewski, who let some of the strain show when a questioner wondered after the semi-finals whether any coaching was really required, and if all the US had to do was roll the ball out on the court and let their NBA talents do the rest.

"None. None. You got it. Absolutely none," the 65-year-old coach joked with a decided edge. "I'm out every night with my family, drunk as a skunk. Wait 'til you see me tonight. I'll get in at six. You're all invited to come out with me. We just roll out the damn ball. You got it."

In a game of 19 lead changes, the US men denied Spain the gold medal again but it was far from easy.


Image: LeBron James of the United States and team mates celebrate on the podium
Photographs: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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Russia won bronze medal

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Bronze medal winners Russia beat Argentina on the strength of a partnership that should bring smiles to the management of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves.

Russia were led by former NBA All-Star Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved in their bronze medal victory over Argentina. Kirilenko and Shved will be spending next season trying to win for the T-Wolves.


Image: Russian players and coaching staff celebrate
Photographs: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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Predictable golden ride for the US women

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It was a much more predictable golden ride for the US women, who ran their Olympic winning streak to 41 games when they beat France by 36 points for a fifth successive gold.

The depth of the US women's team proved unbeatable, but the tournament also threw a spotlight on some memorable moments and personalities.

There was Celine Dumerc, who led France to an unlikely 7-0 run to the gold game by inspiring her team mates with her infectious spirit and an uncanny ability to sink huge baskets.

There was Liz Cambage of Australia, a 20-year-old centre with enormous promise, becoming the first women to slam dunk in an Olympic game, and her veteran team captain Lauren Jackson who became the all-time Olympic scoring leader.


Image: The United States players pose for a photo with their gold medals
Photographs: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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US team has not lost an Olympic game in 20 years

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Afterwards, Cambage was almost apologetic for dribbling the ball down the lane and slamming it through.

US veteran Diana Taurasi was told about Cambage's shyness over the subject.

"Hell, if I could dunk, I'd throw it down on everybody I could," the feisty American said in a remark that typified the cocky attitude of a US team that has not lost an Olympic game in 20 years.


Image: Florence Lepron of France tries to block Maya Moore of United States during the Women's Basketball Gold Medal game
Photographs: Mark Ralston/Getty Images

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