London 2012 Olympics: Fun-loving US basketball boss no basket case
The United States are playing so well going into today’s final of the Olympic men’s basketball against Spain that their coach Mike Krzyzewski barely needs to do any work.
“Absolutely none,” the 65-year-old joked. “I’m out every night with my family, drunk as a skunk. Wait until you see me tonight.
“I’ll get in at 6am. You’re all invited to come out with me. We just roll out the damn ball and that’s it. I don’t know how you figured it out.”
Well, not quite. But given their performances so far it does not seem like that much of a stretch.
Argentina, featuring five members of the squad that won gold in 2004, were billed as one of the teams that could give the Americans a real headache in Friday night’s semi-final.
Instead, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony took it in turns to carry the team in spurts as they pulled away for a 109-83 victory.
But it is not a done deal yet.
Standing between them and defending their Olympic title is a rematch against a Spanish team who pushed them all the way in a 118-107 American victory in Beijing, even though key man Jose Calderon was missing with injury.
And Krzyzewski, far from sampling London’s late-night bars, knows he has plenty of homework to do.
“They have one of the top five players in the world in Pau Gasol,” he said. “Calderon hit huge shots for them [in their semi-final against Russia].
“They have the best rotation of big guys in the tournament. They have a deep bench. Sergio Llull is dynamite, a fiery player. They are certainly a team that can beat us.”
Spain’s “Los Chicos de Oro”, the golden generation who first emerged with victory at the 1999 World Junior Championships, going on to win the 2006 World Championship, Olympic silver in 2008, and European titles in 2009 and 2011, are approaching the end of a long road.
Reaching the final gives them one more shot at a first ever gold medal for their country.
“Very few people get a chance to compete in an Olympic final in their lives,” said Pau Gasol. “We are fortunate to have a second chance.”
Spain have not looked at their best throughout this tournament, and they fell into a 13-point hole against Russia before rallying to win their semi-final 67-59.
But the spirit they displayed in coming back showed a team unwilling to let their second chance slip away.
“Before this match, we weren’t playing the way we know we could,” said Sergio Rodriguez. “But when this team are against the wall, we always respond.”
It should make for a fantastic final. The United States have been dominant so far but the one thing that might stop them is a veteran Spanish team looking to go out with a bang.
“Everybody said this is the game that they wanted to see,” James said. “We look forward to it and we are happy as a team to be in this position.”
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