USA to meet Serbia in final

RIO DE JANEIRO – Spain will leave another Olympics without a gold medal in men’s basketball, and the improving U.S. are in great shape to win gold again.

Klay Thompson scored 22 points and Kevin Durant had 14 points as the U.S. defeated Spain 82-76 Friday in the semifinals.

The Americans can win their third consecutive gold and extend their eight-year dominance in international basketball with a victory Sunday against Serbia. The Serbs handed Australia a 87-61 beating in their semifinals tonight to set up a rematch of the 2014 FIBA World Cup final in which the US routed them 129-92.

It was the USA’s 52nd consecutive victory in a major international event and 24th consecutive Olympic victory.

Spain has established itself as the world’s second-best team with silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics. But it can’t beat the U.S.

With U.S. looking susceptible to a loss in the group play, this shaped up as a winnable game for Spain and perhaps its best chance to beat the U.S.

Spain played the U.S. close. It was 36-32 U.S. in the second quarter and 53-48 U.S. in the third. But Spain never posed a serious threat as it did in the 2008 and 2012.

Spain trailed 66-57 at the start of the fourth quarter, and the U.S. built a 72-57 lead with 7:28 left in the game. 

DeAndre Jordan goes strong to the basket for a slam-dunk.
DeAndre Jordan goes strong to the basket for a slam-dunk.

The U.S., which has struggled at times defensively in Rio, tightened its defence in the quarterfinals against France and were even better against Spain.

Spain shot just 39 per cent from the field, and U.S. center DeAndre Jordan was the definition of a rim protector with four blocked shots and 16 rebounds. He also scored nine points.

With so much focus on the USA’s defensive issues, its offence has multiple scoring options, making it difficult for opponents to get enough stops.

Pau Gasol scored 23 points for Spain.

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