Nation & World

Basketball: U.S. readies for Sunday final (2:30 a.m. EDT)

BEIJING - The United States men's basketball team is looking for a little R & R at the Beijing Olympic.

Revenge and redemption.

They got the revenge Friday night (a.m. in the U.S.), whipping Argentina, 101-81, at Wukesong Olympic Basketball Gymnasium. The Argentines beat Team USA en route to winning the 2004 Olympic gold at Athens.

A little gold-medal redemption is on the line Sunday, with Team USA taking on world champion Spain at 2:30 p.m. (a.m. EDT). Spain advanced by rallying past Lithuania 91-86.

Argentina plays Lithuania for the bronze.

-This time, there were no accusations coming from the U.S. bench. Only admissions that Cuba was too good, too powerful, too experienced, and too determined to win what could be the final Olympic gold medal in baseball. The Cubans hit four home runs, pounded their archrivals 10-2 in Friday's semifinal and advanced to their fifth straight Olympic final.

Alexei Bell and Frederich Cepeda each blasted a three-run homer in the eighth inning, and none of the five U.S. pitchers who took the mound could quell the Cuban bats. Bell showboated as he rounded the bases with his index finger raised to the sky, and then he and his teammates celebrated in the dugout. That did not sit well with the U.S. team.

"This is not the first time," said U.S. manager Davey Johnson. "They have a lot of fun and do a lot of things we don't condone in the U.S. But it's over."

And it could be over forever. Baseball was dropped from the menu for the 2012 London Olympics, so Cuba's gold-medal game against South Korea takes on extra importance, and the U.S. team, which plays Japan for bronze, is left with the sick feeling that it may never again win another gold medal.

-U.S. volleyball player Lloy Ball has a knack for making strong suggestions without saying a word.

David Lee was receiving those painfully obvious non-verbal messages throughout the final three sets of the U.S. men's volleyball semifinal against Russia.

It wasn't until the match's most crucial points that Lee finally responded.

"(Russian middle blocker Alexander Volkov) killed us all match, and Lloy's looking at me the whole time like, 'Do something! Stop him once,"' Less said. "I got him at the end."

With the fifth set tied at 12-12, Lee was all alone trying to block another Volkov quick attack. Lee not only stuffed Volkov, but the ball actually hit Volkov in the head on the way to the floor. Lee followed with a kill two points later and another block on match point, sending the U.S. team into a wildly emotional celebration - and into the gold medal match.

The 25-22, 25-21, 25-27, 22-25, 15-13 win against Russia, a team the U.S. is 2-12 against since 1996, assured the Americans of their first medal since their bronze in 1992. The U.S. team also won gold in 1984 and 1988.

It also continues an impressive showing from USA volleyball, which features the gold medal winners in both men's and women's beach volleyball and has both indoor teams in gold medal matches.

-The Jamaican sprinters had another big night. The men's 4x100m relay team dazzled in the evening's finale, with Usain Bolt picking up his third world record and third gold medal of these Olympics. Jamaica was relatively even with the field entering the third leg. Then the baton went to Bolt, who broke the race open. The 100 and 200m world record holder handed off to former 100-meter record holder Asafa Powell, who dug toward the finish line and crossed in 37.10, breaking the world and Olympic record of 37.40 held by the United States.

Also, Bryan Clay won the men's decathlon with 8,791 points, 240 points ahead of Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus. The win gave the United States 102 medals at the 2008 Beijing Games - equaling the U.S. total for the 2004 Athens Games, with two days of competition still to go.

-Utilizing Phil Dalhausser's power and partner Todd Rogers' experience and opportunistic play, the American duo defeated Brazil's Marcio Araujo and Fabo Magalhaes 23-21, 17-21, 15-4 for the gold medal Friday at Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground.

First-time Olympians, Rogers, 34, and Dalhausser, 28, jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the third and decisive set with their complimentary play - Dalhausser with the power block, Rogers' with the perfectly placed touch shots,

The Brazilians seemed rattled, committing unforced errors as the Americans ran away with the third set, Dalahusser knocking over Rogers with a ferocious chest bump on match point.

With Rogers' and Dalhausser's gold, U.S. teams have now won five gold medals, two silvers and a bronze in four Summer Games since the sport made its Olympic debut.

Elsewhere:

Faced with growing doubt about whether medal-winning Chinese gymnasts were too young to compete this month, the International Olympic Committee has asked the International Gymnastics Federation to look into the issue and "put to rest once and for all the questions," a committee spokeswoman said.

Press reports, including one in Friday's Times in the United Kingdom, have accused the Chinese government of hiding documents that would have barred women gymnasts such as He Kexin, who won two gold medals in Beijing, from competing.

The Times story said a U.S. computer expert, Mike Walker, found two documents that had been removed from a Chinese government Web site showing He was only 14 years old. Olympics rules require gymnasts be 16 years old in an Olympic year.

The Chinese women gymnasts won six medals in total, including two gold.

IOC spokesman Giselle Davies, however, said the committee had already received documents such as birth certificates showing the gymnasts were old enough to compete. Davies would not specify how many gymnasts or which of them were under scrutiny.

"We're received some information which puts the matter to rest," Davies told reporters at a regularly scheduled Friday news conference. "There's no question from our perspective."

Davies said the international federation was working with the Chinese national federation on the issue.

In other events Friday:

-The U.S. men's water polo team advanced to the gold medal game for the first time since 1988 with a 10-5 victory over Serbia. The U.S. will play Hungary in the gold medal match, scheduled for Sunday. The U.S. men have not medaled in water polo since winning back-to-back silvers in 1984 and 1988.

-Steve Lopez's bid for his third Olympic gold medal in taekwondo ended early when we was beaten Friday in a quarterfinal match. He dropped a 2-1 decision to Italy's Mauro Sarmiento in an 80-kilogram weight class bout that went to a sudden-death extra period, the first time in five years the 29-year-old has lost a match. Lopez then won the bronze medal after scoring a 3-2 victory over Rashad Ahmadov of Azerbaijan.

-American Deontay Wilder was defeated by Clemente Russo of Italy 7-1 in heavyweight boxing. The loss gave Wilder a bronze medal.

-The United States Olympic Committee announced that archer Khatuna Lorig has been selected as flag bearer for the U.S. Olympic Team at the Closing Ceremony by fellow members of Team USA. To select the flag bearer, U.S. captains from each sport met in the Athlete Village Friday.

Lorig has represented three different countries in the Olympic Games. She represented the Unified Team of the former Soviet Union at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, where she won the bronze medal in the team competition. She competed for Georgia at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. She immigrated to the United States and missed out on the 2004 Olympic Games as she was not yet a U.S. citizen. She received her citizenship in 2005 and competed in her fourth Olympic Games in 2008, representing the USA.

In Beijing, Lorig advanced to the quarterfinals of the women's individual elimination round with an upset over the No. 10 seed Ana Maria Rendon of Columbia. Lorig, the 26th seed, fell to world record holder Yun Ok-Hee of Korea, who went on to win the bronze medal.

  Comments