The United States is back to being Number-1 in basketball.
Team USA redeemed itself for a dismal third-place showing four years ago by capturing the Olympics gold medal by beating stubborn Spain 118-107 in a much tougher-than-anticipated championship game. The Americans finished 8-and-0 in Beijing.
Dwyane (dwayn) Wade was spectacular off the bench in the first half. He led the Americans with 27 points, including 21 in the first half when Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were limited by foul trouble.
But down the stretch, Bryant's poise took over. The NBA Most Valuable Player capped off a terrific year by taking command after Spain threatened to pull a major upset. Bryant finished with 20 points.
After building an eight-point halftime lead, the U.S. led by just two points with eight minutes left. But Bryant hit a shot, added two assists and hit a three-pointer to build the U.S. lead back to nine. Then, after Spain cut the deficit to five, Bryant converted a four-point play that gave the U.S. a 108-99 lead with 3:10 left.
The championship game was not a cakewalk. Team USA had beaten Spain by 37 points in the preliminary round. But the Spaniards hung tough, giving the Americans by far their toughest test of the Olympics.
Argentina won the bronze medal with an 87-75 win against Lithuania.