The United States men's basketball team is only one win away from earning a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. On Thursday, Team USA took down Australia 97-78 in the semifinals and will face France in the gold medal game on Friday night. Kevin Durant, who is Team USA's all-time leading Olympic scorer led the squad with 23 points and nine rebounds.
"We know teams are going to come out fast and hit us with a nice punch," Durant said. "We know teams want to get us down early and see how we respond. A lot of these guys got continuity for years and years and know how to play with each other. I feel like a lot of teams are expecting us to fold early. We stuck with it and stuck with our principles, made a couple of scheme switches on defense, and we were able to get some momentum going to the half."
A preliminary round rematch for the #Tokyo2020 Olympic gold medal! 👊August 5, 2021
Thursday's win was not easy for the U.S. as Australia led 41-26 in the early stages of the contest. "They're like a machine," Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said. "And that really bothered us starting the game. I think we were down 14 or 15, and they just sliced us and diced us. We looked like we had never played together before at the defensive end of the court, which in some respects was true I guess, now that I think about it. We've had to try to figure out on the fly here how to do it, and I thought in the last five minutes of the second quarter and the third quarter, we were very aggressive, we pressured well, understood that that's what it was going to take to beat a fine team like that."
Team USA is looking to win its fourth consecutive Olympic Gold medal and first with Popovich as the head coach. The last time the team won a silver medal was in 1972 when the Soviet Union won gold. Since using NBA players in 1992, the U.S. has won gold except once and that was in 2004.
"It is a different experience, different teammates," Durant said about returning to the gold medal game for the third time in his Olympic career. "But the journey has been fun so far, and we are looking forward to this opportunity. It's rare that guys come in and do it four straight times, especially after 2004, I think. It's a tough run for us, and for us to be back is exciting. So we are looking forward to seeing who we play first off and going out there and trying to finish."