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Exhibition Season Over, Team USA Ready For Olympics

The USA men’s basketball team could face Spain in the Olympics on August 12. Tuesday, the Americans delivered the message that the gold is theirs to take.

With Carmelo Anthony coming off the bench to score 23 points in the first half and Team USA’s defense clamping down, the U.S. backhanded the No. 2 team in the world, Spain, 100-78, in Barcelona.

It was a win that signified Anthony and Co. are ready for the London Olympics.

“We knew that this was a big game,” U.S. guard Chris Paul said. “We approached it like (was a big game) and it was a good win for us.”

The rematch of the 2008 gold-medal game wasn’t much of a match. Spain led by nine points early and then were hit with a barrage by Anthony, the New York Knicks forward.

“It was a good test for us tonight, but the exhibition games are over, the (niceties)  are over and we look forward to the real challenge of going to London,” said LeBron James, who had 25 points.

Pau Gasol scored 19 points and Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka, a native of the Republic of Congo who became a Spanish national last year, had 16.

They’re still the best two teams in the world and favored to meet again in the Spain would have a different look, as Marc Gasol was held out of this one while recovering from a left shoulder injury and backup point guard Sergio Rodriguez also sat out.

Spain’s players said the bigger priority was preparing for London. The Americans responded that the Spaniards, playing in front of their home fans, would be compelled to go all out in hopes of a victory.

Spain seemed to be playing for real, but was simply overmatched and the Americans eventually ran away from them.

“Well, it was definitely a game that we would have loved to play better as a team,” Gasol said. “We made too many mistakes which they capitalized and they played their game. They’re a quick unit, very athletic and once they were able to convert a few fast-break opportunities due to our turnovers, it was hard for us.”


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