USA NBA stars dunk Spain to reach Rio final

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Two-time defending champion United States, led by NBA star Klay Thompson's 22 points, advanced to the Rio Olympics gold-medal game by defeating Spain 82-76 Friday, August 19 (Saturday Manila time) in a rematch of the past two Olympic finals.

The Americans will play for the title on Sunday against the winner of a later semi-final between Australia and Serbia.

The US team captured its 24th consecutive Olympic victory and stretched its 10-year overall win streak to 75 games since a 2006 World Championships semi-final loss to Greece.

But a Spanish side boasting 7 NBA players and three former NBA players kept the US team to its fewest points in an Olympics since 2004.

Kevin Durant added 14 points for the US team while Kyrie Irving contributed 13 and DeAndre Jordan scored 9 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.

Pau Gasol, a two-time NBA champion, led Spain with a game-high 23 points and pulled down a team-high 8 rebounds.

Jordan ran into the lane and leaped high for a rebound then slammed in a spectacular dunk with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter to give the US team a 61-50 edge.

Jordan jammed home an alley oop dunk to end the period, giving the Americans a 66-57 lead that they quickly stretched to their largest of the game at 72-57.

Spain, which never led, closed with a 19-10 run but it was too little and too late.

Thompson scored 17 points in the first half to spark the Americans to a 45-39 half-time advantage. He scored 12 in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer to give the US squad its biggest first-half lead at 33-23.

Spain answered with a 16-9 run, Sergio Fernandez scoring five to lead the spurt, but Thompson added a 3-pointer to boost the US lead entering the third quarter.

Gasol scored 12 points in the first quarter, but Spain had trouble finding other point producers, his teammates going only 2-of-12 from the floor in the period.

Greek referee Christos Christodoulou called 6 technical fouls in the first half, including the third foul on US scoring leader Durant and the fourth on Spain forward Nikola Mirotic. –