Baltimore-raised Carmelo Anthony came off the bench to score 27 points as the U.S. national men’s basketball team beat Spain, 100-78, in Barcelona in the final exhibition game heading into the summer Olympics in London. USA closed out the warm-up exhibition games with a 5-0 record.
Both Spain and the U.S. are considered the two favorites to reach the Gold medal championship game in London; most basketball experts believe Spain has a size advantage over the U.S. that can help them steal the gold.
But Spain’s size didn’t help them in exhibition play as USA’s versatility and hot shooting from the perimeter proved too much for the Spaniards.
Anthony, who naturally plays small forward for the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association, came off the bench as a power forward for USA. Although Anthony was undersized compared to Spain’s big men, he used his quickness and shooting skills to score 23 of his game-high 27 points in the first half. Anthony couldn’t be stopped, knocking down five three-pointers in the first half to help USA take a 48-40 lead into halftime.
LeBron James also made three three-pointers as he totaled 25 points against Spain; Kevin Durant added 13 points, 10 points scored within the first three minutes of the third quarter to help blow USA’s lead up to double digits.
“We knew that this was a big game,” U.S. guard Chris Paul said. “When talked to us, he told us this was probably the biggest game here in Barcelona since the ‘92 team was here, so we approached it like that and it was a good win for us.”
Coming into the game, Spain’s starting center Marc Gasol told reporters that he believes the Original Dream Team of 1992 would beat the current U.S. national team by at least 20 points on a bad day.
Marc Gasol didn’t play in the exhibition game against USA because of injuries but his older brother, Pau Gasol did; Pau scored 19 points in the loss.
“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.”