Wednesday, Dec 8, 2021

Team USA in collision with Boomers

Back and forth they went, the reigning Olympic champions from the US on one side, the reigning Basketball World Cup champions from Spain on the other...

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Back and forth they went, the reigning Olympic champions from the US on one side, the reigning Basketball World Cup champions from Spain on the other.

The difference: The Americans had Kevin Durant.

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He's never gone to the Olympics and not won gold — and clearly, doesn't plan on that changing. Durant scored 29 points to keep his quest for a third Olympic title alive, and the Americans are headed to the medal round after ousting Spain 95-81 today in a quarter-final matchup at the Tokyo Games.

"We've just got to finish it. Got to finish it," Durant said. "We're supposed to be here. For us, it's about getting the gold."


Kevin Durant of the USA slam dunks during the quarter final Basketball match between the USA and Spain on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 03, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Jayson Tatum scored 13 and Jrue Holiday added 12 for the US, which will play either Australia or Argentina in the semifinals on Thursday. The Americans also gave themselves the chance of extending a streak like none other in Olympic basketball history — in all 18 of their previous Olympic men's basketball appearances, they've gone home with a medal.

All eyes now for Australian fans are on the Boomers who clash with Argentina from 10pm AEST tonight.

Ricky Rubio was brilliant for Spain, scoring 38 points, Sergio Rodriguez added 16 and Willy Hernangomez scored 10. Damian Lillard scored 11 and Zach LaVine added 10 for the U.S.

It wasn't easy, and rarely is against Spain. This was the fifth time the teams had met in the Olympic quarterfinals or later since 2004; the U.S. is now 5-0 in those games, but the margin of victory in those is a close-by-American-Olympic-standards: 9.2 points.

And this one was no different. Spain actually led by 10 in the second quarter, before the US went on what became a 36-10 run over the next nine minutes to take control for good.


Sergio Rodriguez #6 of Team Spain drives to the basket against Damian Lillard #6 of Team United States during the first half of a Men's Basketball Quarterfinal game on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 03, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

"It was a huge boost," Durant said. "We didn't want to go into the half down double digits. ... We knew we didn't want to get down big against this team."

Spain had won three consecutive Olympic medals, taking silvers after losing to the U.S. in the gold-medal games in 2008 and 2012, followed by a bronze in 2016 after falling to the U.S. in the semifinals. And this may be the last time that the Spanish roster has some of its longtime mainstays; Pau Gasol is 41, other top players like Marc Gasol and Rudy Fernandez are much closer to the end than the beginning, and this might have been Spain's best chance to beat the U.S. at the Olympics.

"I think it's time for somebody else to enjoy the ride," Marc Gasol said, indicating he's playing for Spain for the final time, after a game where he and his brother both went scoreless — an unthinkable concept in Spanish basketball for two decades. "I think it's time for me to get off the ride and for some young guys to step on and enjoy it."

Spain got down seven early, then simply did whatever it wanted against the U.S. for a 10-minute stretch of the first half. It was a 29-12 run by the time it was over, a burst that turned a 17-10 early deficit into a 39-29 lead with 3:25 left until halftime.


Devin Booker #15 of Team United States strips the ball away dfrom Ricky Rubio #9 of Team Spain during the second half of a Men's Basketball Quarterfinal game on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 03, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Spain shot 13 for 22 during that stretch, the U.S. just 5 for 22 — missing 12 of its last 13 shots in the run. But just when it looked like the Americans were in big trouble, it was their turn to rally.

A 14-4 U.S. run to close the half made it a 43-43 game at intermission, the burst capped by seven consecutive points over the final 70 seconds. And with that, it was a 20-minute game to decide who would play for medals and who would be going home earlier than planned.

The Americans didn't trail again.

"A team with so much firepower, you learn," Marc Gasol said. "You learn."

The U.S. opened the second half on a 15-4 run — making it a 22-4 run going back to late in the second quarter — and went on to lead by as many as 16 before taking a 69-63 edge into the fourth. The lead held up, and the medal round awaits.

"We're in a good spot right now," Durant said.

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    By: wwos
    Title: Team USA on collision course with Boomers
    Sourced From: wwos.nine.com.au/olympics/tokyo-2021-usa-kevin-durant-defeat-spain-ricky-rubio-boomers-await-with-argentina-match/5761ba1d-f5bc-4d24-8db6-19ffefafb726
    Published Date: Tue, 03 Aug 2021 07:23:47 +0000

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