The Australian Patty Mills is jostled by the American Draymond Green, during their semi-final, on August 5, 2021 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Temps de lecture : 2 mn 🕗
Olympus in sight for “Team USA”: American basketball players, in search of a fourth Olympic coronation in a row at the Tokyo Games, bluntly dismissed Australia (97-78) Thursday in Saitama, where Kevin Durant and Devin Booker pulled out all the stops.
The United States and their armada of NBA stars will try to assume their status as favorites in the final on Saturday, against France or Slovenia by Luka Doncic, opposed in the evening (8:00 p.m. local, 1:00 p.m. French). Australia will try to console themselves with bronze against the loser of this other semi-final.
After a start to the tournament inside, marked by an inaugural defeat against the French (83-76) in the group stage, the United States managed to revive, in particular by authoritatively dismissing Spain, world champion in title, in the quarterfinals (95-81) Tuesday.
A victory in the form of a message for the competition, followed by another as confirmation of their ambitions, against the Australians who were deluded during the first two quarters.
In the wake of the excellent leader Patty Mills (15 pts, 8 assists), whom the American coach Gregg Popovich knows well to train him for years in San Antonio, the latter played uninhibitedly for a quarter of an hour .
And if the Americans returned to the locker room at the break with three lengths behind (45-42), it was even less bad, because five minutes earlier they had fifteen. Result of a hard-pressed defense which was further sanctioned by the external address of their opponents (7/15 three points).
Book on time at last
“They wanted to put us down early and hope that we would panic, but we did not do it,” explained on NBC Durant, who held his team at arm’s length (15 pts in the first period, 23 in the end) , before his teammates manage to find the sights better, evidenced by the first two successful award-winning shots by Jayson Tatum and Devin Booker after eleven misfires.
The latter, who joined the group late, like Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, after the NBA final won by Milwaukee against Phoenix, then took over from “KD” offensively in the third quarter, showing all his talent glimpsed for two seasons with the Suns. His 16 points scored (out of 25 in total) were half those of his team which then inflicted a heavy 32-10 over the period.
KO standing after this huge outburst, the “Boomers”, led 74-55 at the start of the last quarter, never knew how to find a second wind, despite a slight defensive relaxation of the USA who still took advantage to make the show, with in particular spectacular dunks of Zach LaVine (9 pts), one of their best purveyors in the matter.
The men of Gregg Popovich, who dreams at 72 of finally adding Olympic gold to his exceptional record with the Spurs (5 NBA titles), are only one victory away from it. Their rise to power, admittedly sometimes a little slow, allows them to believe strongly in it.
“Whatever it is, we must fear the adversary. To fear him is to respect him and prepare accordingly”, nevertheless called the old sage.