The US women's basketball team cruised through to their sixth Olympic gold medal in a row on Saturday after thrashing Spain 101-72 at the Rio Games.

The United States managed to shake off their opponents in the second quarter to finish 49-32 at half-time, and then never looked back, stretching their lead to 81-49 at the end of the third quarter.

It is the eighth Olympic gold medal overall for the US, who have triumphed over Spain in all nine Olympic and World Cup encounters the two have had since first meeting at the Barcelona 1992 Games.

Diana Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen topped the US scoring with 17 points each, while Alba Torrens managed 18 points for the Spanish side.

"It's pretty incredible," Taurasi said of winning gold. "It's not about one person, one coach, it's about how can we make this the best basketball team ever?"

"It's one thing to do something unexpected, but it's another thing to do something you're supposed to do, year after year, game after game, quarter after quarter," Maya Moore added. "This team didn't get complacent. I think that's the sign of a true champion."

When asked about the US dominance, Spanish player Silvia Dominguez quipped that the American players must be born "with the ball in their hands or something like that."

"They are physically perfect," she added.

Spain and Serbia claimed their first-ever Olympic medals in women's basketball on Saturday by finishing with silver and bronze.

Torrens said it had been a long time since "Spanish basketball is working so hard," describing the medal as "something historical for our country."

The Serbian women's team is also breaking new ground by making its Olympic debut in Rio.

A third-period burst took it away from France in the bronze encounter and set up a 70-63 win in Rio de Janeiro.

Serbia had led 18-10 after the first quarter, their advantage in no small part due to the French shooting an anemic three of 16 from the field. In the second period, it was Serbia whose hands turned cold as France drew level 27-27 at the break.

The tight third quarter turned Serbia's way late on, as Sonja Petrovic followed a big three-point play with two free throws after being fouled during a steal to set up a breakaway. Serbia led 55-42 going into the final frame and the bronze was in sight.

Player Milica Dabovic said some tough love from coach Marina Maljkovich at half-time had done the trick.

"When the coach comes in the locker room and says that you play like pussies, you don't want to play like that," Dabovic told journalists after the game. "We started to cry, and we said: 'OK, we are going to show her that we are not fake and we are not that.'"

Maljkovich said the angry outburst was the first in her career.

"I just felt that something had to be done to get the team in order," she said. "We were so afraid we would be the only team not to bring a medal home ... It was such a big pressure."

The men's final is on Sunday, with the US and Serbia facing off for gold, while Spain and Australia will compete for bronze.

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