YU_SPORT_1: CNN: Basketball USA vs. YU

CNN: Basketball USA vs. YU

mitrovic@bdt.com (mitrovic@bdt.com")
Sun, 4 Aug 1996 15:42:05 -0700

Dream Team
III: Nothing
but gold

USA sputters before
beating Yugoslavia 95-69

August 4, 1996
Web posted at: 12:30 a.m. EDT

ATLANTA (AP) -- The U.S. Dream Team has won the Olympic
basketball gold medal, beating Yugoslavia in the final 95-to-69.

For a while, Yugoslavia controlled the tempo, got into the Dream
Team's heads and avoided giving up the big run that the U.S.
team needed.

The game turned, however, after center Vlade Divac drew his
fifth foul with 15:20 left. Unable to protect the inside like it had
earlier, Yugoslavia gave up four straight dunks in a
three-minutes span as David Robinson took control against
smaller defenders.

Just like that, in what had been a one-point game, the Americans
opened up a double-digit lead. And for the rest of the game, it
became showtime for the Dream Team to the delight -- and relief
-- of the largest crowd in Olympic basketball history.

Although it won all eight of its games, this team never had the
luster that the first Dream Team did in the 1992 Barcelona
Games. That team, led by Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic
Johnson, not only blew out all opponents but commanded the
attention of a worldwide audience.

In almost every game of this tournament, the U.S. team
struggled early and needed a second-half surge to put away far
less talented opponents.

When the end came Saturday, and John Stockton dribbled out
the final 25 seconds, the Dream Team gathered at center court for
a quiet celebration.

Robinson, who scored nine straight points for the United States
when it was pulling away, surpassed Jordan to become the
career scoring leader for the United States.

Robinson finished with 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting, leaving
to a standing ovation with 1:08 left and the U.S. team ahead by
24. Reggie Miller had nine of his 20 points in the final 9:24.

Those two made up for ineffectual nights by Scottie Pippen and
Charles Barkley -- two of the holdovers from the 1992 team that
cast such a large shadow over its successor.

In an emotional halftime ceremony,
Muhammad Ali was given a gold
medal to replace the one he no
longer has from his 1960 Olympic
victory. IOC president Juan
Antonio Samaranch made the
presentation at midcourt as the
34,600 fans roared its approval.

Ali, who began these games by
lighting the ceremonial torch,
shuffled out to midcourt and
accepted the medal from
Samaranch, who kissed the boxing
legend on both cheeks. Then, with
one hand twitching from the
ravages of Parkinson's syndrome,
Ali raised the gold medal slowly to his lips and kissed it.

Barkley, Miller and Karl Malone were the first Dream Teamers to
approach ad hug Ali. Players from Yugoslavia posed for a
picture with him as the crowd chanted "Ali! Ali!"

If the U.S. team was inspired, it didn't show immediately. The
Americans led only 51-50 with about 14 minutes left and still
was up by just five points with 11 minutes remaining as
Yugoslavia played the kind of patient game that many of the
Dream Team's opponents have all tournament.

But the United States scored 35 of the last 49 points in the game,
and 10 of the Americans' last 20 points came on dunks.