After preparing for nearly a decade to dethrone the U.S. men’s basketball team at the Olympics, Australia fell short once again on Thursday with a 97-78 loss to Team USA in the Olympic semifinals. With its latest victory, Team USA advances to the gold-medal game.
From CBS Sports:
The United States men’s basketball team survived a first-half scare vs. Australia in the first Olympic semifinal on Thursday, turning a 15-point second-quarter deficit into a runaway 97-78 victory. The Americans will play the winner of the matchup between Slovenia and France for the gold medal on Friday night, while Australia will face the loser for the bronze medal.
As has been the case throughout the entire Tokyo Olympics, Kevin Durant—who recently surpassed Carmelo Anthony as the United States’ all-time leading Olympic scorer—did damage against Australia, delivering 23 points of punishment while leaving a similar impact on the defensive end.
“There were a lot of guys on this team that had straight faces and were ready to play when we were down 15 [points], strong faces is what Pop said,” Durant told reporters. “They came out and hit us with a nice haymaker, and we were able to get back up and get that lead back.”
Australia, which features seven players with NBA experience and is led by Brooklyn Nets guard Patty Mills, deployed rotations and double teams that, at least, early on threw Team USA off of its game. But with Kevin Durant playing out of his mind and continuing to assert himself as the best basketball player on the planet, it was only a matter of time until Australia fell to the wayside.
“When you are a great team and you’re playing a team who feels that it’s going to be tough to beat us, they’re going to come out and play their best brand of basketball,” KD said. “They’re going to play perfect basketball, and I felt like that’s what they did in that first half, and once we went down three going into halftime, I felt like we had the game in hand.”
With Australia now in the rearview mirror, all eyes are on Saturday’s gold-medal game, where Team USA will either face off against Luka Dončić’s Slovenia or Rudy Gobert’s France.