Team USA Edges Past Spain in Men’s Basketball; Advances to Semifinals at Tokyo Olympics

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(Photo : ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images) USA’s Devin Booker (L) and USA’s Kevin Wayne Durant celebrate their victory at the end of the men’s quarter-final basketball match between Spain and USA during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on August 3, 2021.

Team USA barged into the semifinals of the men’s basketball competition at the Tokyo Olympics after recording a thrilling 95-81 win over Spain in their quarterfinal showdown on Tuesday. Kevin Durant led the way for Team USA, who now are just two wins away from grabbing their fourth consecutive gold medal in this event.

Durant was sensational in this contest, recording 29 points to lead all scorers for Team USA. He shot 10 of 17 from the field for a high 59 percent clip. Durant was also lethal from deep, knocking down four of his seven attempts from the 3-point area.

Durant helps Team USA survive first half storm

Four other players scored in double figures for the United States, Jayson Tatum, Jrue Holiday, Zach LaVine, and Damian Lillard. Tatum scored 13 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the floor while Holiday chipped in 12 points of his own. Lillard and LaVine scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The United States started strongly in this contest, posting a 17-10 advantage in the first quarter. However, Spain finished that quarter strong, embarking on an 11-2 run to end the opening period with a 21-19 lead over Team USA.

The Spaniards continued that momentum in the second quarter as they threatened to blow the game wide open. They stretched their advantage to 11 points at 40-29, with the Americans finding it difficult to stop the bigger Spaniards inside the paint. At one stage in the first half, Spain was crushing the United States 25-12 on the glass.

It didn’t help matters that Team USA was struggling with its outside shot to start the match. The Americans missed 12 of their first 15 three-point attempts, allowing Spain to establish that double-digit lead.

Just when it seemed that Spain was heading for a gigantic upset, the Americans battled back before the end of the first half. Led by the red-hot Durant, Team USA unleashed a 14-4 run in the closing minutes of the second quarter to draw level with Spain at 43 points apiece heading into the break.

Related Article: Champions Collide as Team USA Faces Spain in Men’s Basketball Quarterfinals at Tokyo Olympics  

Durant and Rubio put on an offensive show in the second half

Durant continued his torrid shooting at the start of the second half, hitting two quick three-pointers to give Team USA a 50-45 advantage. The Americans piled on the pressure as the Spaniards started to miss their shots, opening the third quarter with a 22-6 run to build a 65-49 lead with 4:33 remaining in the period.

Ricky Rubio won’t let Spain die that easily as he inspired a furious fightback to end the third quarter. The Spaniards went on a 14-4 blast as well to slice the Americans’ lead to just six points, 69-63, entering the fourth quarter.

With the game hanging in the balance, it was Jayson Tatum who sealed the victory for Team USA, delivering timely baskets in the fourth quarter that stretched their lead to 15 points, 81-66. Rubio tried his hardest to keep Spain afloat, scoring 38 points in total, but the Americans were just too strong on the day.

Rubio’s 38 points were the most any player has ever scored against Team USA in the Olympics. It was still not enough, though, as the Spaniards missed out on a men’s basketball medal in the Olympics for the first time since the 2004 Athens Games.

READ MORE ON SWN:

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