The 2020 Olympic Men's Basketball Tournament, featuring 38 players from the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup playing key roles for their countries, concluded on Saturday with USA defeating France for the gold medal while Australia knocked off Slovenia for bronze.
USA too much, down France to claim fourth straight Olympic gold
United States withstood a spirited fight from France to secure an 82-87 victory and claim its fourth straight Olympic gold medal. NBA superstar Kevin Durant was too much as he led USA with 29 points and Jayson Tatum added 19 points at the Saitama Super Arena. France, which had beaten the Americans in the first game of the tournament 83-76, will head home from Tokyo with its third silver medal - losing all three times to USA in the final, the others coming in 1948 and 2000. Rudy Robert and Evan Fournier both tallied 16 points for France while Guerschon Yabusele of Real Madrid scored 13 points and Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul’s Nando de Colo picked up 12 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists in the loss. The French didn't help their own cause, committing 18 turnovers - and forcing just nine for USA - while hitting 18-of-29 free throws.
France led early on by six points thanks to some early USA shooting woes but Durant heated up and tallied 12 points as the Americans were ahead 18-22 after 10 minutes. The USA momentum continued and the advantage grew to 13 points - 26-39 - but Gobert and Fournier had combined for 21 points by halftime and France trailed just 39-44 at the break. Yabusele opened the second half with a three-pointer and France pulled within 42-44. USA surged ahead with a 1-10 spurt to lead 45-56 but two more Yabusele triples made it 55-62. The Americans managed to pull away 57-71 but it was just 63-71 after 30 minutes as France refused to give up. After a three-pointer from Frank Ntilikina trimmed the deficit to 70-73, the Americans extended the gap to 10 points and were still up 75-84 inside the final 70 seconds. De Colo hit two free throws with 10.2 seconds left to make things interesting at 82-85 only to see Durant ice the game from the free throw line with 8.8 seconds remaining.
Late run gives Australia bronze over Slovenia
Australia made history in the bronze medal game as it defeated Slovenia 93-107 to finally claim its first-ever medal. Patty Mills was unstoppable with 42 points and 9 assists and former Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion Joe Ingles added 16 points for Australia, which finished fourth four times in the history of the Olympic Games (1988, 1996, 2000 and 2016). Australia, which also got 16 points from former Zalgiris Kaunas big man Jock Landale, took over the game with a 6-19 run in the fourth quarter. Slovenia failed in its attempt to reach the podium in its first Olympic appearance. Luka Doncic had 22 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists while Klemen Prepelic tallied 18 points, his Valencia Basket teammate Mike Tobey scored 13 points and Jaka Blazic of Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana added 12 points.
The game was tight throughout the first half, with Australia leading 19-20 after 10 minutes and 45-53 at the break, with Mills having already scored 26 points. Australia increased the lead to double figures and extended the margin to 12 points - 52-64 - and the score was 67-78 after three quarters. The score was 67-81 early in the final frame before Slovenia raced back into the game with a 13-2 surge to make it 80-83 with 6 minutes to play. Then it was Dante Exum and Mills time as the duo combined for 13 points in the deciding run.