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Sports Then and Now

Can Spain End USA’s Olympic Basketball Domination?

Posted on June 01, 2012 by John Ogalbe

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will be playing on different teams during the London Olympics.

Since basketball was first included as an Olympic Games event at Berlin, in 1936, the United States has been very much the dominant force. They won every gold medal up to 1972, when the Soviet Union finally beat them in Munich.

However, since then, it has been mostly a case of ‘normal service resumed’, with just two instances of bronze (Seoul 1988 and Athens 2004) tarnishing the otherwise brilliant glow emitted from the gold cabinet.

None of this comes as a surprise, when you consider that the NBA is the strongest basketball association in the world. Indeed, in the 1990’s, the USA were able to call on the services of none other than the legendary Michael Jordan, to help secure their rightful place at the top of the tree.

They can be beaten, as Argentina proved at Athens 2004, but there was no chance of a repeat shock, four years ago, when LA Lakers player, Kobe Bryant, led the USA to gold in Beijing. He is now in his thirties though, and that will give hope to the other 11 teams in the competition, notably, Spain, who have become a real force in world basketball of late. They have their own talisman in Pau Gasol.

As the current European champions have to be respected, as do the reigning Olympic titleholders, Argentina, the top team in South America. The Argentines are fifth-favorites to triumph at London 2012 on Betfair.

Those two sides are capable of causing an upset, while, elsewhere on the court, the newly formed Great Britain squad will be urged on by massive home support, although they need to up their game, the British women will be competing in the Olympic Games for the very first time.

Coached by Tom Maher, who led Australia to podium finishes in 1996 and 2000, they could be an outside bet in the Betfair London 2012 odds to make the semifinals.

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