A Running Diary of the USA vs. Spain Gold Medal Match

Joe WillettSenior Writer IAugust 24, 2008

I haven't really stuck my hat into much as the USA Mens Basketball team, A.K.A the Redeem Team, has made garbage out of every team that they have played, winning handily at each event.

I've been watching, I've been enjoying, I just haven't been writing about it.

However, I am ready.  This is the gold medal game vs. Spain, this is what this team has been going for, and I am ready to stay up until four in the morning to give you all a running diary of this game as it happens.

Note: All these times are central time.

1:25 AM: We finally get off of the gold medal match for ping-pong, did you know that a lot of Chinese ping pong players are dating high profile Chinese celebrity women? We are now ready for a preview before the gold medal match starts.

1:31 AM: Tip off finally.  We started a minute late so that's not a good sign.

1:31 AM: First points for the USA on an early three, but Pau Gasol gets a three-point play after getting fouled to tie it back up on the next possession.

1:34 AM: Sloppy play by the USA really early better not be a sign.  A foul on Kobe Bryant and then trying to be flashy gives Spain an early 1-point lead, although Kidd takes it right back.

1:36 AM: Talk about sloppy play, LeBron James has two fouls and the game hasn't even been going to five minutes.

1:38 AM: Bryant commits a stupid foul, letting Spain shoot three free throws, Bryant's second foul to join James.  You only get five fouls in the Olympics so that isn't a good sign.  Both are subbed out.  Spain leads 15-11.

1:41 AM: Both of these teams are attacking the basket.  Spanish 17 year-old phenom Ricky Rubio appears in pain and is being looked at by the training staff after trying to knock the ball away from Chris Paul.

1:44 AM: Spain isn't trying to slow down the pace of the game, which could hurt them.  The USA is going inside early and often, and although they are losing, the tempo is in their favor.  Rubio is being taped up and is likely to return.

1:47 AM: Spain moves to the zone which should slow down the game.  As I type, a big dunk for the USA shows their fastbreak skill.  The USA leads and Rubio is back in the game.

1:51 AM: There has been a bevy of whistles as each team is getting a lot of calls.  A lot of important players have at least two fouls, including Bryant and James for the USA and Rubio for Spain.  Dwayne Wade has been taking over the game offensively and defensively.

1:53 AM: The first quarter is over, USA leads 38-31 as both teams have been taking quick shots and putting plenty of shots in.  There have also been a lot of fouls called.  I recall five players that have two fouls on them but I also don't have access to in-game stats.  James and Bryant both sat out most of the first quarter.  Wade has been amazing with his shooting, driving, and defensive prowess throughout the first quarter.  He almost ended the first quarter with a big slam but lost the ball.

1:57 AM: Dwight Howard makes a big foul, letting Gasol shoot two then get the ball back.  He lost Gasol big time then he grabbed Gasol so he couldn't score.

1:59 AM: Bryant gets a fastbreak dunk and the Spanish team is in an outrage saying he traveled.  They were up and threw towels on the floor. USA leads by 12 now.

2:04 AM: Half court alley-oop to Kobe Bryant was very exciting.  USA leads by eight.

2:06 AM: Both teams play hot potato with the ball, the USA ends up with it and LeBron James can't complete the three-point play, but at least he got two.  Wade steals the ball quickly and takes another big slam.  Wade has been spectacular and a leader so far in this game.

2:09 AM: Wade should just play the Spaniards by himself, he has 18 points, three steals, and a highlight assist where he took out the entire Spanish team to give James a wide open three.  He is reason enough for me to stay up this late.

2:14 AM: This Spanish team may not be that close in this game, but they refuse to let the USA take a huge lead, they always are keeping within 12 points, usually at about nine back, but they are still within striking distance.

2:15 AM:The fouls just continue, Deron Williams can't keep up with the new rules, as he gets a backcourt violation with what, in the NBA, wouldn't be a backcourt violation.

2:18 AM: The Spaniards are trying to get the USA to implode by attempting to get them to talk.  Hopefully, they know that the Spanish don't understand what they are saying.

2:19 AM: Halftime Notes

1. The USA needs to improve on their defense and control their fouls in the second half of this game.  Spain is staying in this game mostly because of free throws.  Get back down to smothering, smart defense that won't let them get shots while keeping them off the foul line.

2. Get Dwayne Wade the ball more, and I can't stress this enough.  The man has single handily made this an amazing show, with all of his fast break dunks, great defense, and clutch shooting.  He has scored 21 points in just 13 minutes, an outstanding first half of basketball.

3. Keep the tempo up, if you continue to get quick baskets, you limit the amount of time that you can make a bonehead move on offense and you put all the pressure on Spain to score next.

4. Spain doesn't have that one guy that you can shut down to take over their team.  Right now Rudy Fernandez leads the Spanish team with 13 points, but three other players have over seven points on their team.

5. Get bigger on the boards.  With Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh down low, the USA should have more than 12 rebounds and Spain should have less than 14.

USA leads 69-61 over Spain, time for me to get a G2 ( I swear they didn't pay me for the name drop, but I like the idea of them doing that) and gear up for the second half.

2:34 AM: The second half starts with USA ball, but quickly turn the ball over to Spain who scores to make it a six point game.

2:36 AM: Fouls aren't being called at all now, as clear fouls are going as no-calls which were being called in the first half.  Inconsistent officiating could be a problem for both teams.  The USA already has three turnovers in the second half.

2:40 AM: Spain is playing tough.  Juan Carlos Navarro has been brilliant so far in the second half and Spain has knocked the lead down to a four point game.

2:43 AM: Carmelo Anthony hurt his hand on a fastbreak dunk and has been pulled for now.  USA leads by four still.

2:44 AM: Spain has moved into a full zone for the start of the second half and it has been working as the Redeem Team hasn't been shooting as well so far this second half.  Both teams are trading scores back and forth.  Lead is six, then four, then six, then four, back and forth.

2:46 AM: With under 14 minutes left in the game both teams are going hard for the ball in an exciting play that left Spain with four seconds to shoot.  David Beckham seems unaffected.

2:50 AM: Wade hasn't been involved much in the second half, but he is starting to get a little bit more of a role, scoring on the past two possessions.  The Spanish bench continues to get warned for standing up after basically every basket.

2:52 AM: USA hasn't scored on two fast breaks, not a good sign, but they still lead by 10, which is good as the third quarter is under a minute.

2:55 AM: Juan Carlos Navarro hits a buzzer beater to make it a nine point game, 91-82, at the end of the third quarter. USA needs to spread the lead early in the fourth quarter in hopes of keeping the pressure off of themselves.  Team USA is also still getting out-rebounded 25-22.

3:00 AM: USA needs to call a timeout as Spain has dropped seven straight points to make it a two point game.  Spain has more rebounds, more assists, and even has been more flashy in this second half.

3:02 AM: Spain moves back to a man coverage, which is puzzling with the way that the zone has worked.  Bryant scores right away, and James commits his fourth foul, only one foul away from being booted from the game.

3:04 AM: Chants of USA! USA! USA! engulf the gym as the USA team has dropped seven straight in return and then add another three after Spain finally scores to make it a nine point game again.

3:06 AM: Rudy Fernandez makes a big slam and gets the foul for Spain after USA extends their lead to 11.

3:08 AM: Big dilemma on whether to put in Chris Bosh or Howard at center.  Howard has size against Pau Gasol but Bosh has better free throw shooting which could be pivotal down the stretch.  USA leads by seven.

3:11 AM: Spain goes back to a zone as Bryant hits a huge three with the foul and a chance to make the four-point play while fouling out Rudy Fernandez who has been Spain's Dwayne Wade in this game.

3:13 AM: Every time that USA brings the lead to nine or 10, Spain knocks it right back to four or five, which is very annoying.  Right now, the lead is right in the middle, at seven, after a Dwayne Wade three.

3:15 AM: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant both have four fouls, each one away from receiving the same fate as Rudy Fernandez.

3:17 AM: The USA seemingly has it essentially in the bag, with 47 seconds and Chris Paul at the line, and an eight point lead.

3:19 AM: Kobe Bryant says "these are my free throws" and shoots four shots and then gets the ball back.  Coach K calls time to celebrate together and put the scrubs on the floor for the last 26 seconds with a 10 point lead.  Kobe Bryant stepped up late with big plays to help secure the victory.



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