by Devon Jeffreys, August 10, 2012
The Gold Medal Rematch is set.
Deron Williams and Team USA earned a spot in their second straight Olympic Basketball final on Friday with a 109-83 victory over Argentina in the semi-finals. They'll face Spain in the gold medal game on Sunday, a rematch of the 2008 Olympic final which Team USA won 118-107.
D-Will played 16 minutes in the 2008 final and said that Team USA anticipated a rematch with Spain, who they also defeated 100-78 in a friendly last month. Despite the fact that the Spanish National Team struggled in pool play, losing twice on their way to a third place finish in Pool B, the Americans believed they'd have to go through Spain to win gold again.
"This is what everyone expected, I think, a Spain-USA final. And it's here, and we're excited about it," Deron said. "We didn't get a full Spain team last game, and we know they've got Marc Gasol healthy now, so, we'll get their real team. We're locked in and looking forward to the challenge and ready to go."
To reach the final Team USA has to beat an Argentine team that had played them tight twice already this summer. The first half of Friday's semi-final was no different. Team USA jumped out to a huge lead, reeling off 15 of the first 19 points to take an 11-point lead just under four minutes in that forced an Argentina timeout.
But out of their timeout, Argentina scored 13 of the next 17 to cut the deficit all the way down to two with 1:27 left in the quarter. D-Will entered the game in the midst of that run, with four minutes left in the first, and helped Team USA put an end to it by following a Russell Westbrook layup with a trey to push the lead back to seven. The Americans led by five after one.
Argentina hung in for the entire second quarter, only briefly trailing by double digits. Yet when Kevin Love made a layup with nine seconds left in the half, it looked like Team USA might take a 10-point lead into the break. But Manu Ginobili answered with a buzzer beating triple that pulled Argentina within seven and gave them momentum heading into halftime.
Ginobili hit another three at the start of third to cut the U.S. lead to 47-43, but that was as close as Argentina would be the rest of the way. Team USA followed with a 12-3 run to take a 13-point lead with 6:28 left in the third. D-Will came in shortly thereafter and the Americans held steady, led by a combined 13 points from LeBron James and Kevin Durant to carry a 17-point lead into the fourth.
It was in that fourth that Team USA blew the doors off Argentina, outscoring them 35-26, including eight made three-pointers on 11 attempts from deep. Four of those eight threes came from Carmelo Anthony during a two-minute and 20-second stretch early in the quarter. Deron assisted on each one of Melo's four triples, which helped turn the game into an American rout.
D-Will added his fifth assist of the quarter on a kick out to James Harden for a three that put Team USA in front by 28 with 2:51 to go. Argentina scored the next seven points to claw back to within 21, but Deron found Chris Paul for a trey with 1:18 to go to push the edge back to 24. Then No. 8 put an exclamation point on the game himself, burying a triple from corner with 34 seconds to go that put the Americans up by 29 as they romped to a big victory.
"We've been locked in for the whole tournament," said D-Will, who had all six of his assists and three of his six points in that decisive fourth quarter. "We had one slip-up against Lithuania, but pretty much every other game, we've played our game and executed our game plan. Tonight, I think we played our best basketball and we have to play similar to beat Spain."
The 2012 Olympic Gold Medal Men's Basketball game is set for Sunday afternoon inside London's North Greenwich Arena. Team USA will battle Spain in a rematch of the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal game. Deron believes the key to victory for Team USA is to dictate the pace and play that suffocating defense they've shown flashes of throughout the tournament.
"We just need to play our game," he said. "We need to pressure them, make things hard for them on the defensive end, and just play our game."
Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EDT) and the game can be seen live on NBC.
- USA Men Shoot Down Argentina 109-83 To Advance To Gold Medal Game (USA Basketball, August 10, 2012)
- Additional Quotes >> USA 109, Argentina 83 (USA Basketball, August 10, 2012)
- Box Score: USA 109, Argentina 83 (USA Basketball, August 10, 2012)
- Instant Analysis: USA 109, Argentina 83 (ESPN.com, August 10, 2012)
- Kevin Durant, U.S. hit 18 3-pointers, roll into gold-medal game (Associated Press, August 10, 2012)
- U.S. Whips Argentina 109-83, Move On To Gold Medal Game Against Spain (NBA.com, August 10, 2012)