The time has come. Only two teams remain in search of the men’s basketball gold medal for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: United States and France, two world powers of sport.
The Gauls represent the ultimate challenge for americans in search of their fourth consecutive coronation: it seems fair that they are the same ones who took the United States out of the 2019 World Cup in China and those who less than two weeks ago they defeated him on the first day of basketball in Tokyo 2020.
With the NBA Evan fournier (leader in scoring with 19.2 points per game and 41.7% accuracy in triples), Rudy gobert (average of 11.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and one block per game) and Nicolas Batum (8.2 points, 6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game) as references in addition to the presence of the young man Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, man from Brooklyn Nets, and from Nando De Colo (ex NBA) as the team leader (13.8 points and 6 assists on average), the French have remained the only undefeated in this tournament after overtake the United States, the Czech Republic, Iran, Italy and Slovenia on the way to the third ending of his story.
In London 1948 (65-21) and Sydney 2000 (85-75) the French fell to the United States in the definition: Will they make history this time and win the first intercontinental title in their history (so far they have only been crowned in a Eurobasket in 2013)?
For the United States, there does not seem to be an acceptable result other than victory: it is what was expected of a team with a rotation made up of Kevin Durant, Jrue Holiday, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, Bam Adebayo, Draymond Green and Khris Middleton, NBA stars. However, the team has had ups and downs throughout the competition, falling to France and then having to come back against Spain and Australia in the elimination matches.
Those led by Gregg Popovich have already secured a silver medal with Durant as a figure (19 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.2 blocks on average), but they will seek to avoid being the second American team defeated in a final. (At the moment the only one is Munich 1972, with controversy included) and finally manage to prevail against the size of the French team, which in the group stage match did a lot of damage through its interior players. Special attention to Durant, who will seek to match Carmelo Anthony in the record for gold medals achieved in men’s basketball after having been crowned in London 2012 and Rio 2016.
How to watch the final between the United States and France
The match, which will start at 9:00 PM from CDMX, 11:30 PM from Argentina and 04:30 AM from Spain, It can be followed through La 1, Eurosport (available on DAZN) and RTVE Play in Spain, Public TV and TyC Sports in Argentina and with the free streaming of Marca Claro via YouTube throughout Latin America.
From NBA.com in Spanish you can follow all the game updates live.
More | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: three stories to follow from the final between the United States and France
United States begins with Jrue Holiday, Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bam Adebayo (Holiday and Booker enter for Lavine and Green regarding group stage loss) and France exit with Nando De Colo, Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum, Guerschon Yabusele and Rudy Gobert.
For now France is superior: they win 10-4 after five and a half minutes of the game, impose the rhythm of the game (very slow), enjoy the 0-7 in triples of the Americans with many open failures and have Nando De Colo (three assists) carrying the handle of his equipment.
The United States took the lead in the game, scoring a triple just on the first try and, more than anything, starting to load the game a bit inside. 18-15 for the Americans with a minute and a half to play: Durant already has 12 goals and is close to the historical record in Olympic finals that he has with the 30 that he made to Serbia in 2016 and Spain in 2012.
Tatum hit another triple, the United States is strong in the protection of the rebounds in its rim (they only allowed two in attack to the France of Gobert and Yabusele) and won by 22-18 at the end of the first period, in which he did not commit a turnover. France has its game plan in general lines, but if the United States gets more precise from the outside, it is the great candidate for victory.
Good American start, taking their lead to 28-20 with Jayson Tatum (7 points with 3-5 from the field) on. When it seemed they were going to escape, France took advantage of their income from the bank: Moustapha Fall successfully defined twice at the low post and narrowed the difference to 28-24.
11-2 for the United States, which escapes to 39-26. Now it is France that forgives in open shots but also does not stop losing the ball: they have eight losses in 15 minutes of the game. He also has Fournier, Batum and Vincent Poirier with 2 personal fouls. The French playing circuit is totally gone and so it is difficult for them to get to the paint, the only place where they take advantage against those led by Popovich.
Adebayo’s outstanding defensive work, although better for the United States when patrolling the paint than when it changes and goes to the perimeter. With points from Gobert (12 points), which punishes and punishes in the fall of the pick and roll, France cut the difference to five points with a triple by De Colo on his first shot to the basket and two free throws by Fournier (11 points) .
In the United States, the points do not come in quantity if it is not for Durant and Tatum, with Lillard playing especially badly (just a little with 0-4 from the field) but with Durant and Tatum accumulating 32 points between the two. 44-39 for Team USA indicates the score.
The defense of the United States is being too aggressive with a Gobert who cannot stop and ends up constantly fouling him. The Utah Jazz player forgave a lot on the free throw line but despite a 6-11 he keeps the French in the game, just down 51-45 with three minutes played in the third quarter, the period in which the United States usually solve the matches in this tournament.
There are already two triples for Damian Lillard in this quarter: the Portland Trail Blazers star begins to warm up his hand and the United States breathes deeply with a 60-50 advantage. Compensates for the null production of Booker, with 0 points in 15 minutes and three personal fouls. Durant, 27, is already just three points shy of equaling the scoring record in the final.
Predictably, the United States escaped. 71-57 lead, again with Tatum entering the court well. The defense makes the difference over a France that despairs and loses several balls with Thomas Heurtel (4 losses in 10 minutes for the former Barcelona). Jrue Holiday’s defense has him off the hook. There is little more than a minute left in this room.
France found two triples in the final 35 seconds: first with Luwawu-Cabarrot and then with another from Batum who beat the clock in the LA Clippers forward’s first conversion in this encounter. The United States wins 71-63 and is just 10 minutes away from maximum glory. Holiday, with excellent defensive performance, went to rest with three fouls.
France did not manage to cut the gap at the beginning of the last quarter, joining the Gobert (2.18 meters) and Fall (2.16 meters) towers. He only managed to score when Rudy went to rest. With Ntilikina at point guard and the forwards scoring, the gap narrowed to 73-67 and even Luwawu-Cabarrot forgave by missing a triple to get within three points. With almost all of its starting five (Middleton for Lillard), the United States lost its effectiveness in this period for now. Six and a half minutes to go.
France managed to get within three points by a triple by Ntilikina, but then a loss of the now free agent in the NBA gave the way to Holiday for the 77-70 American. Lillard pulled out some typical “Dame Time” baskets and Tatum hit his third triple of the game on a firm footing, leaving the score 82-72 with 3:24 left.
Ntilikina defended hard against Durant in the closing and the Brooklyn Nets forward still hasn’t scored in this quarter. France cut to 84-78 and are a little excited, although there is barely a minute left to play.
Everything seemed defined with a free by Holiday that made it 85-78, but then the United States forgave three in a row, France squeezed well in full-court defense and recovered the ball, reaching 85-82 with 10 seconds to play. The United States will have to use this possession well to define the match.
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