Tag: betting on Olympics
Twenty years later, Team USA, wins yet another gold medal in men’s basketball. The comparisons are again too hard to make. There are too many compromises, too many anachronisms that have to be made in order to even think for a moment whether the current lineup of the Dream Team is as good as that of the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. We’ve been over this once and again, and the truth is that as brilliant as Micheal Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were two decades ago, truth is that they never really faced a challenge as the one the Spaniards gave Team USA for the Olympic Gold.
At the beginning of the tournament LeBron James said that the team didn’t want this to be an easy tournament. He said that this was a group of very competitive men who needed to have a real challenge. Well, for a moment there it seemed as if Spain was going to give James and the rest of the 2012 Dream Team way more than they have bargained for. Here is the thing; team USA had been so dominant throughout this tournament that anything but the gold would be an utter failure. And yet, somehow, no one, not even the Spaniards thought this one would be that close. After three quarters of phenomenal basketball the Team USA only held a 1-point lead against the Gasol brothers and what was starting to look as the Spanish Armada. It was an intense, go back-and-forth battle in which neither team seemed to be able to break lose.
At the end, and with a big help from Kevin Durant who guided the Americans efforts with 30-points, the U.S. team was able to break lose in the final minutes to ultimately take a 107-100 victory to defend the gold medal they won 4 years ago in Beijing and repeat the feat in the London 2012 Summer Olympics. Just like it happen four years ago, the Americans had to battle for this one. In Beijing, the Spaniards had a close fight, but eventually folded and took a 118-107 beating. This time around, the game was much more closer than anyone had really expected. LeBron James had to bring out his big guns to make this one happen and he finished the game with 19-points. As a matter of fact, he joined Michael Jordan as the only players to win the NBA title, regular-season MVP, NBA Finals MVP and Olympic gold in the same year.
“It was a good year. It was a great year for me as an individual,” James said in the postgame press conference. “But this right here, it means more than myself, it means more than my name on my back. It means everything to the name on the front. I’m happy that I was able to contribute to this great team. It’s one of the best teams ever.” Overall this was sort of a closing moment for a few of these players. Kobe Bryant, on the one hand, knew well that this was his last chance at Olympic Gold and he finished off the night with 17 points. He needed a solid perfomance to win his second Olympic Gold medal, a little something extra to add to his 5 NBA Championships.
The always entertaining Jamaican Usain Bolt once again remanded the World that his is still the fastest man in the planet. Let it there be no doubt about it, the fastest sprinter in the world knew exactly when and how to delivered and with a blazing fast 9.63 in the 100-meter dash, Bolt proved that even if not on his fastest day ever, he is still the very best sprinter. With every long stride, the Jamaican athlete kept on pulling away from the rest of the pack, and he managed to cross the finish line waging his right index finger. He wanted all of those critics and detractors who had thought for a moment that Bolt was out of shape to be clear on this one thing: Bolt is as fast as you can get them.
Now, if you want to talk about recovery and about getting things tuned up at the right moment, well, this is certainly the paradigm of precision. Consider for a moment that by the 50-meter mark, Bolt was running sixth out of the 8 starters. He didn’t panic, there wasn’t enough time for that. All he did was open up the throttle a bit and let it all out. He was facing a field of top caliber athletes in the marquee race of the 2012 London Summer Olympics track and field. And by winning he joined the all-star legend Carl Lewis as the only other athlete to win two consecutive gold medals in the 100-meter dash.
Bolt was ecstatic about the win. He knew how much this one meant to him and how important it was for him to prove the world that he was just as fast as the rest, and then some. In a game filled with the speculation and the success of the swimmers, particularly the record breaking Micheal Phelps, Usain Bolt needed this one for himself and for the sake of track and field. “Means a lot, because a lot of people were doubting me. A lot of people were saying I wasn’t going to win, I didn’t look good. There was a lot of talk,” Bolt said in the press conference, with the gold medal around his neck. “It’s an even greater feeling to come out here and defend my title and show the world I’m still No. 1, I’m still the best.”
He kept on going for a victory lap. Running around with the Jamaican flag in his shoulders the popular sprinter kept on saluting first row fans, multiple high fives and even a small stop to kiss the track. The crowd in the stadiums were chanting his name and even a funky celebration with his fellow countryman and training partner and current world champion Yohan Blake, who won the silver medal. Blake came in second at 9.75 while the USA runner and 2004 Olympic Gold winner Justin Gatlin took in third at 9.79 for the bronze medal. Bolt had suffered a couple of minor injuries that had kept him from been the record-breaking gold medal winning machine that took Beijing by it’s feet. But after four years, he still proved he’s still got the Bolt and he’s got the thunder.
The Argentinean National Basketball team has been a bit criticized for failing to renew it’s aging players with new talent. Truth is that, despite the fact that these guys are certainly aging, and that the average age for the Argentinean team is somewhere up in the 33-year-old range, these veteran guys are still willing to prove that they’ve got what it takes to take the gold medal away from the championship favorite, the team USA and the 2012 dream team. Yet, for a moment, before the London 2012 Summer Olympics even kicked in, many considered this team to be too old to even be considered a serious contender for a medal. Sure enough their most recent performances in the friendly matchups they played in preparation for London were not great, and that made the aging Argentinean team look weak.
So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to see that the South American squad took this first match against Lithuania as a message board to pinch on a bold statement. The old guys are here to stay! But let’s be fair and let the recently traded to the Phoenix Suns power forward, Luis Scola put it on his own words: “I think the message is that we are old but we can play, something like that,” said Scola in the postgame press conference. Sure enough, the Argentinean squad relied heavily on a solid performance Scola, who finished the night with 32 points, while the veteran Manu Ginobili proved to be the heart and soul of this squad, signing off a brilliant 21 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assist performance to lead Argentina to a 102-79 win over Lithuania on Sunday. Carlos Delfino rounded up the Argentinean game with 20 points. This was a big rematch of their 87-75 win over Lithuania in the bronze-medal game four years ago in Beijing back in 2008. Yet this time, they are going for gold. Or at least come home with a silver medal.
Now, Manu Ginobili knows that their next matchup is going to be of utter importance. They will face France tomorrow, a team that lost it’s opening game against the Dream Team. Now, the French need a win urgently, and Tony Parker, who plays next to Manu Ginobili with the San Antonio Spurs, is going to have to prove his worth in order to get around the Argentines. The Lithuanians were able to hold on in the game and were down 24-23 after the first quarter. But soon, things were going to change for good. Argentina got on fire before the halftime break and the 3-pointers just kept on coming. They scored 27 points in the second quarter, taking a 51-39 lead into the break and they never looked back.
“We didn’t want to show nothing to nobody –Said Scola in the same interview- We weren’t playing well in the preparation. We weren’t feeling well, we got this feeling that it’s not going well, we need to do something, we’ve got to play better, we’ve got to move faster, we’ve got to have a little bit more of a spark, so we needed to have this game.” Well, they’ll have a good chance to prove their worth as they play France and Team USA in the first stage.