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USA Basketball's gold medal path set; Argentina up first

USA Basketball's gold medal path set; Argentina up first

The only undefeated men's basketball team in Rio must remain that way to win gold. That winning team must takedown plenty of NBAers in the process.

USA Basketball enters the knockout stage in the 2016 Summer Olympics as the top seed from Group A after a 5-0 start that ended with far closer games than expected. If Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and crew can make it eight straight wins, the U.S. will return home as champion with the third straight best-of-the-best title.

That run begins against familiar faces. The U.S. and Argentina (3-2), led by NBA notables Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola, meet Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. ET.

RELATED: FIVE SNEAKY GOOD WIZARDS HOME GAMES NEXT SEASON

With a victory, Team USA would face Spain (3-2) or France (3-2) Friday. With Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio and a deep roster, Spain entered the tournament No. 2 in the world behind the U.S., but afterr an 0-2 start, they needed to win their final three games to advance. France lost to the U.S. 100-97 Sunday despite playing without San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker.

Ginobili is one of three Argentine players averaging at least 15 points per game, but 2004 Olympic gold medalists must be at ther most efficient offensively against a U.S. team that is averaging 16.6 more points per game. Former George Washington guard Patricio Garino is a stout perimeter defender, but hi skills will be pushed to the extreme against all of Team USA's perimeter firepower.

Durant, who leads the U.S. with 16.8 points per game in Brazil, scored 23 points during a winning 111-74 pre-Olympic tune-up over Argentina in Las Vegas last month. Don't expect a similar result Wednesday. This proud Argentine team won't go out that way. Don't expect the U.S. to lose ether considering their depth and advantages at every turn. That is, unless a "team" of players that have been together for a generation can undermine a far more talented group put together on the fly. Based on the troubles from the U.S. side over their last three games, with each contest coming down to the final minutes, that's possible. Unless of course the stateside NBAers turn up the defense and turn out the noise. If so, it's a golden three-peat.

MORE BASKETBALL: PROJECTING EAST STANDINGS: BROOKLYN NETS

Golden finale: Phelps wins 23rd Olympic gold with relay win

Golden finale: Phelps wins 23rd Olympic gold with relay win

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Michael Phelps closed out the Rio Olympics in the only way imaginable.

Gold.

Phelps put the United States ahead to stay on the butterfly leg of the 4x100 medley relay and Nathan Adrian finished it off, giving the most decorated athlete in Olympic history his 23rd career gold medal.

If that was the end, and Phelps insists it is, what a way to go out.

He would finish his career with 28 medals overall, having won five golds and a silver at these games.

Two-time gold medalist Ryan Murphy put the Americans out front with a world-record split on the backstroke — it counts since he was leading off — but Britain surged ahead on the breaststroke with its own world-record holder, Adam Peaty.

Phelps dove into the pool in second place.

He wouldn't be for long.

On the return lap, Phelps powered through the water with his whirling butterfly stroke, surging ahead of James Guy to pass off a lead to the anchor Adrian.

It wasn't in doubt after that. Adrian pulled away on the freestyle to win in an Olympic-record time of 3 minutes, 27.95 seconds.

The victory came just minutes after the women's medley relay gave the United States its 1,000th Olympic gold medal at the Summer Games.

Reactions to Katie Ledecky's insane margin of victory in 800m Final

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USA TODAY Sports

Reactions to Katie Ledecky's insane margin of victory in 800m Final

Katie Ledecky continues to extend the gap between her and any other 'competition.' 

Last night, she had to play the waiting game at the finish line after destroying her opponents in the 800m Freestyle Final by eleven seconds to win another gold medal. 

She set a new world record and could have read some of these tweets while awaiting the arrivals of the silver and bronze medalists:

https://twitter.com/89SteveSmith/status/764273534155759616

[RELATED: FAN GETS A TATTOO OF MICHAEL PHELPS]