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Close One At Break

LONDON -- Shades of Beijing. Spain outplayed the U.S. in the second quarter and trailed by only one point, 59-58, at halftime of the men's basketball gold medal game at North Greenwich Arena.

Backup point guard Sergio Rodriquez provided a big spark for Spain in the second quarter. So did Rudy Fernandez, an NBA backup who was tough going to the basket and made six straight free throws to help the Spaniards stay in it. Marc Gasol, the 7-1 all-star center from the Grizzlies, picked up his third and fourth fouls in the space of a minute -- don't ask me why the coach left him in -- but Spain seemed to elevate its play without him.

Kevin Durant leads the U.S. with 17 points, seven from the line. Kevin Love was tough off the bench with nine points and six rebounds. LeBron James had eight points, six rebounds and three assists. Juan Carlos Navarro leads Spain with 19 points, including 4 of 6 three-pointers (including a four-point play). Pal Gasol of the Lakers has eight points, six rebounds and five assists.

Of course, the American have been played tough for a half before in these Games. Generally, they come out flying after halftime and take over the game. LeBron James is usually in the middle of it. Spain shot remarkably well in the first half. But the U.S. is likely to tighten its defense on the perimter, making it tougher for Spain to get open shots.

Still, it looks like Spain intends to remain in it until the late going, as it did in a 118-107 loss to the U.S. in a classic gold medal game in Beijing.

Sully live tweeting Men's basketball gold medal game

Jerry Sullivan is following U.S. vs. Spain from London. Follow his tweets below or at @TBNSully.

U.S. up 8 at Break

LONDON -- The U.S. men put on an offensive clinic the first quarter and lead, 35-27, after an entertaining first quarter of play int he Olympic gold medal game. Kevin Durant had 14 points to the the U.S., who moved the ball crisply around the perimeter and nailed seven three-pointers in the first 10 minutes.

Juan Carlos Navarro scored 14 points, including three three-point shots, to keep the Spanish in it. Paul Gasol is playing a strong game on the interior for Spain.

At The Hoop Final

LONDON -- Wrapping up an amazing Olympics by taking in the men's basketball final between Spain and the United States. Spain gave the Americans all they could handle in Beijing, hanging close until the final minutes before bowing, 118-107.

I don't see Spain playing them quite so close over 40 minutes. This U.S. team is better than the 2008 version, mainly because LeBron James is a much more complete and dominant player, and Kevin Durant is on the team and virtually unstoppable.

The U.S. is vunlerable defensively in the middle. Tyson Chandler is their only true center and when Chandler is out, teams attack the post, where modest defensive talents like Carmelo Anthony are forced into the uncommon role of major post defenders.

Spain needs to establish the Gasol brothers, Pao and Marc, to have a chance. It will be imperative for Jose Calderon, the veteran point guard, to have an efficient, productive game as a playmaker. The Spanish also need to prevent the U.S. from forcing turnovers in the middle of the floor and getting their devastating fastbreak in gear.

It's a tall order. Time for tipoff.

Home Stretch

LONDON -- I'm back at the Olympic Stadium for the final session of a remarkable week of track and field. The stadium has been sold out for every session, making it the most well-attended track meet in Olympic history. Former British running great Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the Games, suggested Friday that it was the greatest track meeting he had ever witnessed.

Competitively, the hosts have had the most successful Olympics in their history, shattering their previous record (post-1908) in medals. But the nation will soar even higher if Mo Farah can win gold in the 5,000 meters, which takes place at 7:30 tonight. Farah won the 10,000 meters here and will be trying to become the sixth man to pull off the 5,000-10,000 distance double in an Olympics.

The hyperbole is really flying for this one. Brendan Foster, who won bronze in the 5,000 in Montreal, said Farah is already the greatest long distance runner in British history. Foster said if Farah wins tonight, it will be "the greatest 13 minutes in British athletics history."

The big event, in the eyes of the world and the United States, will cap off the evening and the meet at 9 p.m. That's when the Jamaicans and Americans will collide in the 4x100 relay. Jamaica's Usain Bolt, already a self-described legend after repeating in the 100 and 200, will try to win three golds in one Olympics for the second time in a row. Bolt is the only man to win the 100 and 200 in back-to-back Olympics.

The Jamaicans are the favorites. The question for the U.S. is, can they hold onto the baton? In Beijing, they dropped it in the first round and were disqualified. Jamaica was the favorite then, too, but the Americans had beaten them by .11 seconds in the 2007 Worlds. But the rematch never materialized.

 

 

 

 

Golf Fix

LONDON -- The Olympics have been great, but I have to admit, I'm in a bit of golf withdrawal. Haven't swung a club since playing nine with Melinda at Audubon two days before leaving for England. Even though golf is huge here, it's been overwhelmed by all the cheerleading over the home GB team in the Games. I haven't seen the PGA championship on TV anywhere. I don't even know who's leading

On Thursday, I at least got a little golf fix. I went by the Scotland House on Pall Mall in downtown London for a Ryder Cup 2014 reception. Scotland, the birthplace of golf, will be hosting at Gleneagles in Perthshire. They're obviously very happy about the event, and they want to inspire the young people in Scotland to play the sport with greater zeal. Scotland is also hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

In the press conference room, they had nine championship trophies lined up along the wall. The British Open trophy was there. So were the Curtis Cup, the Solheim Cup, the Ladies Scottish Open trophy, and of course, the Ryder Cup. Pretty cool stuff. Some of those trophies are very old.

They promised to have some of the Scottish golf greats on hand. The only golfer there was Catriona Matthew, who has had a very successful career on the LPGA and European tours. She has 10 career wins and has finished in the top five a few times in majors, though she had never won.

Matthew called the Ryder Cup "probably the biggest event in golf." There's something unique about team golf competitions, where you're not playing for money but for your country. She was also excited about golf being admitted to the Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Matthew said all the golfers have been talking about it.

I'd love to cover Olympic golf. But first, I'm going to Scotland after the Olympics and hoping to play a round or two. I didn't bring my clubs, but I'm told you can rent them just about anywhere, even at St. Andrew's. There must be some amazing old courses here. Melinda will be coming along, and she's been itching to swing the clubs again, too.

Seeing all those trophies reminded me: I need to get our neighborhood golf trophy, The Voorhees Cup, engraved in time for this year's tournament. I won it the Voorhees Open last year with Scott Fruehauf.

 

 

 

 

Sully live tweeting the Women's Soccer gold medal game

Jerry Sullivan is tracking the game from Wembley Stadium. Follow him on Twitter at @TBNSully.

Abby Scores

LONDON -- Well, they struck quickly. Abby Wambach headed in a goregous left-footed pass from Alex Morgan from along the left goal-line to give the Americans a 1-0 lead over Japan. Leads haven't meant a lot in this medal round, but that's a huge one for the U.S. women.

I said Morgan and Wambach would find a way. Didn't expect them to back it up this early.

At Wembley

LONDON -- Well, I'm at another historic venue: Wembley Stadium, one of the great soccer pitches on the planet. The place is pretty full for the gold-medal match between the U.S. and Japan women. It was supposed to be a sellout, around 83,000, but there are several blocks of empty seats in the stadium. Maybe some of the corporate seats that never found their way to fans.

This is, of course, a rematch of the 2011 World Cup final, which was won by the Japanese in a shootout. The U.S. women are looking to win a third straight Olympic gold medal and fourth in five years. I'm expecting Rochester's Abby Wambach and former Flash star Alex Morgan to find a way. Maybe Hope Solo will play a big role and shoot her mouth off afterwards.

Now, a personal moment of silence for the great Marvin Hamlisch, who died yesterday. Heard him a couple of times in Buffalo and always thought of him as sort of a Buffalo guy.

 

 

Audio: Jerry Sullivan on Olympic women's soccer

Jerry Sullivan checks in with Executive Sports Editor Lisa Wilson on his way to Wembley Stadium for this afternoon's women's soccer gold medal game featuring the United States against Japan.

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