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US Blows By Argentina, Will See Spain In Finals

Although Spain still has a say in it, no one is now saying that this U.S. team is hopelessly flawed as they were earlier when the apparent lack of big men was of great concern. Certainly Team Argentina isn't.

Argentina's great international run is effectively over: they were twice within a week completely outclassed by the Americans, losing in the final game of pool play by 29 and now, with Olympic medals on the line, by 26. With virtually the entire team past 30, Argentina now enters into a period of rebuilding.

As was the case in Wednesday's game, Argentina hung around before the now seemingly inevitable second half American explosion. They're a very, very smart team, and they've played together for a long time. But the Americans, having changed their approach entirely, now focusing on defense, teamwork and developing roles an role players, rather than just putting out a team of All-Stars, have separated themselves from the rest of the world.

If it's not LeBron James dunking over or passing through the defense, or Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony or Kobe Bryant getting really hot from three point range, it's the defense: things can be going along fairly quietly and then, out of nowhere, the US has three or four steals and fast breaks in a row.

Still, there's Spain. After the original Dream Team ignited imaginations in Barcelona and across Spain, you see the modern results: guys like Ricky Rubio, the Gasols and Juan Carlos Navarro basically absorbed the game and they've also immensely enriched it and made the Americans better.

Let's face it: who enjoyed the 2004 team? Who enjoyed the teams that were essentially ugly Americans - and played like it?

Even Tim Duncan swore it off with some harsh words for FIBA.

Not now, though. Being cool and blowing off the Olympics is so over. Guys like Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis want in. Guys like Kobe and LeBron have become stewards and guardians of tradition.

Reconceived, reborn and respected: it's the legacy of Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski.

Well, it would be somewhat different if they don't manage to beat Spain. But even that wouldn't contradict the 180 degree change in attitude and culture they've pulled off. It's one of the more remarkable achievements in recent sports history.