US-Spain basketball final is a rematch of '08

By Brian Mahoney

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Aug. 12 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

The Americans returned to Barcelona last month and routed the Spaniards 100-78 in an exhibition game in which Spain rested Marc Gasol and backup point guard Sergio Rodriguez. Pau Gasol said the Spanish understand the U.S. is a powerful team and the game will be difficult, but it won't prevent his team from fighting.

"It's a huge opportunity," Gasol said. "Very few people get a chance to compete in a final, an Olympic final, in their careers, in their lives, and we are so fortunate that we have our second chance."

Rudy Fernandez, Spain's leading scorer in the 2008 final with 22 points, and fellow star Juan Carlos Navarro have battled nagging injuries this year. The Spanish had already lost dazzling NBA rookie Ricky Rubio, who started for them four years ago and is a much improved player now.

But both James and Anthony dismissed the notion that if the Americans are better than they were in 2008, they should win this game more easily now.

"We want to win. It don't matter. We still believe that if we win by one or two points, we're still going to believe that this team is better than '08," Anthony said.

It's expected to be the last international game for Bryant and U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski. And it could be the final appearance in red, white and blue for James and Anthony, rookies in 2004 when the U.S. hit its Olympic low point and now poised to go out on top.

"It's out the roof," Anthony said, describing his excitement level. "It's my second gold-medal game to be a part of, with this team, with this group of guys. And just to know the excitement level that everybody has for this game, it's going to be exciting."

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