The United States men's basketball team is now just one win away from accomplishing the feat that everyone expects of it: winning Olympic gold.
Team USA continued its impressive run in London on Friday, as it defeated rival Argentina by a score of 109-83 in the semifinals and will now play for gold on Sunday.
Although the U.S. obviously has the most talented team in the field, winning under such pressure-filled conditions can't be easy. The Americans breezed through most of the pool games, and while they did have a bit of trouble with Lithuania, they have mostly lived up to the hype and insane expectations bestowed upon them.
The Americans beat Argentina handily in group play in what turned into a heated affair, and managed to do so again in the semis.
Team USA obviously has quite a history with the Argentinian team, and this particular game between the two sides marked their third over the past couple of weeks, as they also competed in an exhibition prior to the Games.
These are the second consecutive Olympics in which the United States eliminated Argentina in the semifinals, as it vanquished the South American squad by a score of 101-81 in Beijing. Argentina rebounded to win the bronze medal, and now, it must look to do the same as its pursuit of gold has come to an end.
Tensions between these two teams stretch back even further than that, though, as it was Argentina that shockingly eliminated Team USA in the semifinals in Athens en route to a gold medal of its own. The Americans secured bronze in what was considered to be an extremely disappointing outcome.
The "Redeem Team" got Argentina back in Beijing, however, and a revamped version of the squad has now done the same in London.
Guys like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have been the unquestioned leaders for Team USA throughout the tournament thus far, but it truly has been a total team effort, as everyone on the roster from No. 1 to No. 12 has contributed in some way and played his fair share of minutes.
The interior guys, such as Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love and Anthony Davis, have had to carry a heavier load than most expected due to injuries leading up to the Olympics, and they have done a great job. They didn't allow Luis Scola to put up a huge stat line on Friday, and that put a lot of pressure on Manu Ginobili and others to perform.
Team USA's point guards, Chris Paul and Deron Williams, have been huge for the squad as well, despite not receiving the same accolades as their teammates.
Pressure defense along the perimeter and a deadly transition game are what truly set the United States apart from the rest of the field, and both Paul and Williams were key in that regard against Argentina and throughout the Olympics.
The job certainly isn't complete yet for Team USA, as there is still one win left to secure, but everything has gone well to this point, and the Americans will be heavy favorites on Sunday.
Anything less than the top spot on the podium is unacceptable, and the team understands that, so I expect it to come out firing in its quest for the gold medal.
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