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Today at the Olympics: US hoops faces Argentina again, women's 4x100 relay

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  August 10, 2012 07:14 AM

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LONDON -- Welcome to Day 14 of competition -- yep, we're two full weeks into this thing, with three days of Games left to go. Hard to believe this is coming to an end faster than Usain Bolt coming around the turn (OK, not quite that fast), but there's still plenty of good stuff yet to come. Today's docket includes medals in athletic, boxing, BMX cycling, field hockey (a very fun sport to watch live), sailing, soccer, swimming, synchronized swimming (where Harvard's Alex Meyer competes in the 10-kilometer open water race) , taekwondo, and wrestling.

Friday's must-see event: On most days -- perhaps all of them before today -- a medal event would be mentioned in this space. But the most intriguing competition Friday is a rematch of a game that actually happened Monday, and wasn't even close. The United States men's basketball team takes on Argentina in the semifinals, four days after beating them by 29 points (126-97). Another blowout is possible with the talent on the US roster and LeBron James playing as well as he ever has, but history suggests Argentina will make a game of it. In an Olympic tuneup less than three weeks ago, the winning margin for the US was just six (86-80), and the more recent game was close into the third quarter until Kevin Durant matched the entire Argentinian team with 17 points in the frame. Argentina was the first team to beat a US team constructed of NBA stars (2002 World Championships), and they took them down two years later to win the gold in Athens. With proud, tough veterans such as Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola, Argentina should provide the US with its toughest test in the tournament.

Also worth watching: Medals will be awarded in six athletics events today: the men's 4x400 and pole vault, and the women's hammer throw, 5,000-meters, 1,500-meters, and 4x100 relay. It's the latter that should stand as the most compelling competition. The US blazed through its qualifying heat (41.64 seconds), but in recent Olympics the team has had a history of mishaps and has not won gold since Atlanta. That could change Friday with Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter leading the US foursome, but Jamaica, with 100-meter gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown on its side, should be right there stride for stride.

Thursday's big stories: Gotta go plural here, or at least one Big Story, Team Division and one Big Story, Individual. The first is the US women's soccer team's 2-1 victory over Japan, avenging their loss on penalty kicks in the World Cup final last year, a disappointing defeat that served as motivation to accomplish what they did Thursday night. “They snatched our dream last summer,” Megan Rapinoe said. “And this kind of feels like the nightmare turned back around.”

As for the individual who stole the night, well, who else but Usain Bolt? The transcendent, so-cocky-it's-comical sprinter completed his double-double, winning the 200-meters for the second straight Olympics just as he had in the 200. His breathtaking acceleration coming around the turn was reminiscent of Michael Johnson doing the same in Atlanta in 1996. In his usual humble way, he declared himself a "living legend'' afterward, which of course is entirely true.

Tweet of the day: While the media is pumping up the familiar names @CarliLloyd was focusing on making sure she outworks everyone and outshines everyone. -- James Galanis ‏(@coachgalanis), a former coach of US women's soccer standout Carli Lloyd. Lloyd, who had both US goals in its 2-1 victory over Japan, retweeted the sentiment.

Mind the gap, and stick around right here for further updates throughout the day.

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