Kevin Durant was the leader of the Americans with 29 points, well seconded by Jason Tatum (19), against a France that paid dearly for its mistakes.
Team USA lived up to the odds and clinched a fourth straight gold in men’s basketball after beating France 87-82 in the final on Friday in Saitama.
Kevin Durant was the leader of the Americans with 29 points, well supported by Jason Tatum (19), against a France that paid dearly for its mistake from the free throw line (18/29) and the losses of the ball (18) .
“This gold means a lot to me, we’ve been through a lot. We have fought against all these adversities and before a great team ”, summarized Durant, gold in London-2012 and Rio-2016.
Despite doubts during the preparation of the Olympic tournament, with blushing defeats against Australia and Nigeria, and making their debut in Tokyo-2020 losing against France (83-76), the United States once again took the gold in men’s basketball to maintain their dominance in this sport.
Since the stars of the NBA participate in the Olympic Games, since Barcelona-1992 with the mythical ‘Dream Team’, the Americans have only missed the gold medal once: it was in Athens-2004 with the coronation of Argentina of the ‘Golden Generation’ led by ‘Manu’ Ginobili.
Los Bleus, who had already shown in the first phase that this North American team could be beaten, did not lose faith at any time, but in the end they had to bow to Durant’s performance and his own mistakes.
“We have a team with a lot of character and we didn’t want to settle for the plant. Now we know that we had a mountain in front of us, ”said Frenchman Nando De Colo.
France hit where it did the most damage to Gregg Popovich’s team, the high game, with Rudy Gobert, top scorer (16) and rebounder (8) of his team, but the best defensive center in the NBA did not take advantage of that superiority to score bigger differences due to their deficit in free throws (6/13).
Los Bleus pay dearly for their mistakes
It was enough for Team USA to press on defense, causing turnovers by the French (4) and Kevin Durant’s points (12 in the first quarter) to get ahead on the scoreboard for the first time and reach the end of the first period with 4-point lead (18-22) after a triple by Jayson Tatum.
The Bleus were 13 points down in the middle of the second period (39-26), but with patience and giving balls to Rudy Gobert (13 points and 7 rebounds at halftime), Vincent Collet’s team was able to stop the bleeding and arrive with life at rest (44-39).
Every time France approached the scoreboard, the Americans gave an acceleration to count differences of up to 14 points in the third quarter, although the Europeans never gave up and with a triple on the horn of Nicolas Batum they arrived with -6 to the fourth and final period (71-63).
With another triple by Frank Ntikilina the Europeans were only 3 points (73-70) with just under six minutes to play, but the Americans again took advantage of the French errors to hit the final stretch, certifying the gold with a basket of Tatum’s three points (82-72, m.37).
Los Bleus fought until the end and, as a consolation, they will be the team that lost an Olympic final against the United States by less difference (beating Spain, which lost 107-100 in Beijing-2008).
This Olympic title crowns Popovich, 72, as one of the best coaches in history, as the gold medal joins the five titles won with the San Antonio Spurs. (D)