RIO DE JANEIRO – For the third straight Olympic Games, the United States of America won the gold medal without suffering a single defeat as they clobbered Serbia, 96-66, Sunday afternoon at the Carioca Arena 1 to cap the basketball competitions in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
After missing the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Kevin Durant made sure that his return to Team USA would be one to remember as he scored 30 points in the game on 10 of 19 shooting the field with five triples.
Durant spearheaded a 33-14 blast in the second quarter to take the fight out of the Serbians early on.
DeMarcus Cousins played his best game when the lights were at their brightest as he chipped in 13 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Klay Thompson added 12 points for Team USA.
Serbia was coming off an outstanding win against Australia in the semifinals when they employed the prefect game plan. However, their preparation for USA could only get them a close game in the first quarter.
Milan Macvan led Serbia with 11 points but none of his teammates scored in double digits in the game. Milos Teodosic having 9 points while Bogdan Bogdanovic and Miroslav Radjulica both had 7.
The Serbians did not help themselves by committing a lot of fouls in the contest, most of which by their main men. Nikola Kalinic played less than 10 minutes and fouled out of the game. Raduljica also had to step out of the contest due to foul trouble in the second quarter and this hastened the demise of Serbia in the game.
“It wasn’t pretty at times but we pulled through. I love you guys,” said Carmelo Anthony as the team huddled after winning. Anthony marked his fourth straight appearance in the Olympics and won his third straight gold. At 32 years of age, it might to a long shot to see him again in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but he has surely left his mark in USA basketball.
After their bronze medal finish in 2004, Team USA’s drive to re-establish their dominance in the basketball world continues here in Brazil. Some people said that they looked beatable after having a hard time in their games against Australia, Serbia, and France in the group stage but they were close to flawless in the knockout stage, capped with their outstanding performance against Serbia in the gold medal match.
For Serbia, their final game was definitely not the symbol of what they accomplished here in Rio. They had to book their Olympic ticket through the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament but they showed that it is not about how they got here but what they did once they did.
With one of the youngest lineups in the Olympics, Serbia managed to win their first medal in Olympic competitions. Their core is still at its peak and they also have a lot of young player who got tremendous experience here in Brazil.
In the bronze medal match, Pau Gasol capped his illustrious international basketball career with a medal around his neck as he finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds en route to an exciting 89-88 victory over Australia.
With 28 seconds left in the match, Gasol trooped to the line for two free throws after drawing a foul from Aron Baynes. Down by a single point, the veteran was in a lot of pressure to make both. Back in the group stage, Gasol was put in a similar situation in their game against Brazil. He missed both and Brazil converted on the other end to steal the game.
This time, however, with the bronze medal hanging in the balance, Gasol was flawless from the free throw line.
Australia’s Baynes then made up for his earlier foul by making a shot to give them an 88-87 advantage. All the Boomers needed was one stop but Patty Mills was whistled for a foul with five seconds left in the match.
Sergio Rodriguez made two free throws to make sure that Spain would have a medal finish for the third straight Olympic Games.