ESPN: Don’t doubt this U.S. men’s basketball team — and sure don’t challenge them, either.
Especially if it’s going to make Kobe Bryant flash his NBA MVP form.
Bryant scored 25 points in his best game in Beijing, and the men’s U.S. Olympic team advanced to the semifinals by beating Australia 116-85 on Wednesday night.
The United States will play defending champion Argentina on Friday night for a spot in Sunday’s gold medal game. The Argentines beat Greece 80-78 in a quarterfinal victory watched from behind the baseline by Bryant and members of the U.S. coaching staff.
Argentina beat the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2004 Olympics.
Locked in what looked like another tough game in Australia, the Americans sent the Aussies’ upset hopes down under with a 14-0 burst to open the second half, featuring nine points from Bryant.
LeBron James added 16 points for the Americans, who are guaranteed a chance to play for a medal. They need two more wins for their first gold medal in a major international competition since the 2000 Sydney Games.
As the US expected, with the gold medal getting closer, the games are getting tougher.
Australia stayed with the United States for the first 15 minutes of the game, duplicating the strong performance it had against the Americans in an 87-76 exhibition loss in Shanghai on Aug. 5 — a contest the Americans led by only seven points midway through the fourth quarter.