Kevin Durant, the US captain, is decisive not only for the 29 points scored but also for his determination in the many difficult moments
FROM THE ENCOUNTER IN TOKYO. Won. In other times it would have been obvious, but this time for the United States, winning Olympic gold in men’s basketball was not easy. This is demonstrated by the tournament that the Americans faced at the Saitama Super Arena as super favorites, but almost immediately discovering an inner fragility that did not go away even in the final against France. The United States won by five (82-87) against the French but at the end of a balanced game, never clearly in the hands of either team. Emblematic in the last minute of the game: Usa ahead of nine (75-84) and ball to the French with Batum making a mistake. On the change in front, Booker misfires from close range and France recovers the rebound again with Batum. This time Fournier made no mistake and shortened it. The Americans suddenly lose their way, with the clock marking 36 ”at the end. Holiday and Lillard miss three free throws out of four, Nando de Colo takes advantage of it after yet another rebound from Batum and puts in for two. With 10 ”from the end, two more free shots by de Colo bring the French to -3 (82-85). A devastating run: 7-1 for the French in less than fifty seconds. Gregg Popovich realizes that the moment is serious and calls the longest time out in history, with the referees whistling a couple of times to call the US players back on the pitch. Rudy Gobert immediately makes a foul, the fifth for him, and Kevin Durant goes to the line, the best of all with 29 points, who is two out of two with 8 ”from the end. Batum missed by three, the last seconds with the ball useless for the Americans who celebrate.
Previously, the United States had disengaged well especially in the first quarter, closed with a 4 point lead (18-22) and in the third during which they managed to reach the maximum advantage over the French (+14 on 57-71 to 1 ‘ 18 ”from the siren), finishing above three (24-27) at the end of the fraction. In balance the second quarter (21-22, one above America), to forget the last time with the collapse in the final and the French ahead in the partial of three (19-16).
The contribution of Kevin Durant, the captain of the United States, has a decisive impact on the final result, not only for the 29 points scored (50% shooting, 6 rebounds and 3 assists) but for the determination he put into the many difficult moments. for the Americans in this tournament. Unlike Messi, the Brooklyn Nets star has struck a deal to extend his contract, signing a four-year contract worth $ 198 million. Durant played 35 games in his first season in Brooklyn, averaging nearly 27 points per game. A step down in the United States are Jayson Tatum (19 points and 7 rebounds all defensive) with Damian Lillard (11 with 3) and Jrue Holiday, also 11 points but with 5 rebounds. It is in fact the backbone of the starting quintet lined up by Popovich, completed by Adebayo and Booker.
In France, the only one to have beaten the United States in this Olympic tournament in the qualifying round, Rudy Gobert suffered more than usual elbows and hands of his opponents, finishing out for fouls and scoring 16 points in all (5 out of 5 from two, 8 total rebounds). Sixteen points also for Evan Fournier, twelve for Nando de Colo who risked becoming the man of the match with the show in the final quarter. The French probably wasted an important opportunity to hit the top step of the podium. They certainly have the possibility of beating the Americans in their legs and arms, as they have shown. They still don’t have the head to be able to do it when the finish line is a few meters away.
The United States wins and, after all, that’s right. It was their most difficult Olympics, with an approach march full of obstacles and defeats. Watching them sweat to win basketball is another little piece of history written here in Tokyo. Gregg Popovich breathes a sigh of relief, a monument of the NBA that boasts records such as the manager who was sent off the fastest in a game or the most successful in the same franchise. He knew he was taking a big risk and could fail. It will go down in history for having done its duty. Making America win.
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