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Nick Friedell

U.S.A.-Spain: The gold medal game

Fourth-Place Medal

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The time has finally arrived for Team U.S.A. to prove once again that it belongs on top of the basketball world. They've already beaten Spain once during this tournament by 37 points, so there is no doubt that the Americans will have confidence heading into this game, but will they have too much?

If the semifinal game against Argentina showed us anything, it's that the U.S. played very complacent basketball after getting out to an early first quarter lead. The Argentinans never quit and proved that if the Americans take the game for granted, any team has a chance to upset them. With a gold medal on the line though, I don't think that is going to happen. Here are a few keys that the Americans need to keep in mind if they want to bring home the gold:

Stop Pau Gasol: If the U.S. can contain the Lakers' star, the Spaniards will have no chance to win. It will be up to Dwight Howard to keep him from scoring in the post. Howard is much more physical than Gasol and should set the tone early.

Run, Run, Run: We've said it for the last two weeks, the Americans have the most athletic team in the tournament. The Americans should push the ball up the floor at every possible opportunity. Team U.S.A. has the deepest roster in the world, and should wear Spain out by the second half.

Don't rely so much on three-pointers: Team U.S.A. spent too much time forcing up shots from behind the arc on Friday against Argentina. The U.S. is at its best in transition; creating easy baskets for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company, they should look for easier shots today.

Remember 2004: I can promise you that the Americans don't need any extra motivation heading into today's game. Coach K and his staff have probably given them all the pep talks they need, but I'm sure the thought of earning a bronze in Athens still lingers in all of the players' minds.

Team U.S.A. has yet to play at its best for an entire game ... I think today is the day that it happens.

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