Exhibition against Spain likely to leave bruises

olympics notebook: Kobe doubts Spain has forgotten losing gold to U.S. in Beijing

The Associated PressJuly 24, 2012 

Maybe Spain can convince its home fans that the game doesn’t matter.

No way Kobe Bryant is buying it.

A game against the U.S. — the team that beat Spain for the Olympic basketball gold medal four years ago — this time in front of their own crowd in Barcelona? The Spanish players are supposed to be OK with losing, because it’s only an exhibition?

“There’s not a chance,” Bryant said Monday. “It’s not just practice. It’s impossible.”

Bryant might have come away with a different opinion if he’d listened to Spain’s players talk on the same Palau Sant Jordi floor about an hour earlier. They are excited about the game tonight and will try to win, but not at the expense of their preparations for London.

“It’ll definitely be a great test,” Spain star and Bryant’s Lakers teammate Pau Gasol said. “We believe in our chances, but it’s just a friendly game. Obviously we’d rather lose tomorrow and win in London.”

The U.S. held off Spain, 118-107, in Beijing to win gold in what U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski called “one of the great games in international basketball history.” The Americans pulled away after leading by just four with under 21/2 minutes left to win their first major title since the 2000 Olympics and are ranked No. 1 in the world.

Spain is No. 2, and nobody would be surprised to see them play a gold-medal rematch on Aug. 12.

ISRAELIS HONORED

IOC president Jacques Rogge paid tribute to the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed in Munich 40 years ago, leading a solemn minute of silence in the athletes village.

It was the first time the IOC has honored the slain Israelis in a ceremony inside an Olympic village.

Rogge has repeatedly rebuffed calls to hold a moment of silence during Friday’s Opening Ceremony of the London Games. He said Saturday the opening was not the appropriate place to remember the Israeli team members killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

NBC’s Bob Costas says he plans his own on-air commemoration and intends to note the IOC’s decision when Israeli athletes enter the stadium. He said many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive.

Costas refused to talk about his plans in more detail, and an NBC Sports spokesman said that production plans for the Opening Ceremony are still being finalized.

IRAN PLANS TRUCE

Iranian athletes will compete against Israelis at the London Olympics, according to the country’s chef de mission.

Iran has been criticized in the past because some of its athletes withdrew from events against Israelis at the 2004 Athens Games and 2008 Beijing Games.

“We will be truthful to sport,” said Bahram Afsharzadeh, who is also the secretary general of the Iranian Olympic Committee said.

Afsharzadeh spoke in the athletes village after signing the “truce wall,” a U.N.-backed initiative calling on warring parties around the world to end hostilities during the period of the games.

“In sport and in Olympics, all the countries must (be) together with the teams in friendship,” Afsharzadeh said in English. “Solidarity for all the countries is very important.”

CHANGE IN SECURITY

The security firm G4S will no longer be providing protection at the Olympic stadium in Newcastle, city officials said, citing concerns over the troubled company’s shortfall in recruiting guards.

Thousands of British soldiers have been drafted in to fill a gap in guards after G4S acknowledged it would not be able to provide the promised numbers of security personnel.

HEAVY HEART

First lady Michelle Obama says she’s excited about leading the U.S. delegation to the London Olympics this week but remains “heartbroken” by the Colorado movie theater shooting.

In a conference call with reporters, she said Americans have “come together as one family” over the shooting. And though she says the trip starting Thursday is a “dream come true,” she’s remembering the people of Aurora, Colo., in her prayers.

While in London, Mrs. Obama will have breakfast with the U.S. Olympic team and attend a reception at Buckingham Palace.

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