Kevin Durant led Team USA to a decisive victory over Spain in Olympic men’s basketball on Tuesday, earning a ticket to the semifinals.
The United States were victorious 95-81 despite a valiant 38-point effort from Spain’s Ricky Rubio. Spain had a 10 point lead late in the second quarter when the United States came roaring back.
“We drove it to the rim at the end of the second and were able to get our rhythm back a little bit,” said Durant, who ended up with 29 points. “I like how we played from the end of the second quarter all the way up to finish the game and that’s how winners play ball.”
The Saitama Super Arena north of Tokyo was the fullest it has been so far in these spectatorless Games, as athletes, officials and volunteers gathered for what would have been a hot-ticket match.
The United States will move on to the semifinals on Thursday to face the winner of the quarterfinal between Australia and Argentina.
The Americans have historically been the team to beat, with 15 gold medals since 1936, and the players and coaches have made clear they will only be satisfied with one result this time.
“We got to finish it,” said Durant, who plays for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. “You know, we’re supposed to be here. For us, it’s about getting the gold.
Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic led Slovenia in a 94-70 victory over Germany to move forward to the semifinals. Doncic has led all players in scoring and is second in rebounds only to his team mate Mike Tobey.
For a nation of just two million people, Slovenia has fielded a powerhouse team in their Olympics debut. While Doncic is the nucleus of their offence, he’s surrounded by team mates who reliably score in the double digits, such as Zoran Dragic who had 36 against Germany.
“Obviously they have one of the best players in the world, but he’s not alone,” Germany head coach Henrik Roedl said about Doncic and the Slovenian team.