OLYMPIC GAMES | BASKETBALL
Tokyo Olympics: Team USA into quarters as Durant and Tatum star
Team USA should have a favourable draw in the quarter-finals after thrashing the Czech Republic, as France and Australia won Groups A and B.
The Czech Republic were no match for the United States as Jayson Tatum and Kevin Durant starred in a 119-84 romp.
Team USA back dreaming of gold
Team USA's emphatic victory sealed their place in the quarter-finals as the second-placed side in Group A and ensured they will not face one of the pool winners.
Durant put up 23 points and six assists, overturning an early deficit, while Tatum led the team with 27 points, including five three-pointers.
Team USA's 20 threes represented the fourth time they have managed as many in an Olympic game, also doing so against Argentina in 2012 (20), Lithuania in 2004 (21) and Nigeria in 2012 (29).
Due to the margin of defeat, the Czechs – who threatened an upset before falling away dramatically – will not progress into the next round as one of the best third-placed sides.
France were able to rest some star names as they progressed. Les Bleus had won their opening two games and completed a clean sweep in Group A with a 79-62 victory over Iran.
Only one player – Timothe Luwawu Cabarrot – played more than 20 minutes, with star men Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert given limited game time.
Nando De Colo enjoyed a highly efficient cameo in his 15 minutes on court, scoring 10 points on 100 per cent shooting while adding five rebounds and five assists.
Iran talisman Hamed Haddadi finished off his Olympic campaign with an 18-point showing, but it was not enough to keep his team in the tournament.
France have already beaten the United States, but Fournier dismissed the suggestion they are gold medal favourites.
"To be honest, I'm not even focused on the gold medal, just the quarter-finals," he said. "Any team that we are going to play there will have its strengths and weaknesses, but I can't tell you who I would prefer there because we don't even know who's going to be there."
Top spot for Australia
Patty Mills scored five threes in a haul of 24 points as he led Australia to an 89-76 victory over Germany.
The Boomers needed victory to secure first place in Group B and they did so with a 13-point margin to ensure they will be seeded in the quarter-final draw on Sunday.
Despite defeat, Germany will go through as one of the best third-placed teams.
Mills is heading into unrestricted free agency in the NBA, but his sole focus is on propelling Australia towards a medal.
Australia's pursuit of a first men's Olympic basketball medal remains on track as they finish the group stage a perfect 3-0 and await the quarter-final draw— FIBA #Tokyo2020 (@FIBA) July 31, 2021
Box Score https://t.co/wshhpH7up7#Tokyo2020 | #Basketball pic.twitter.com/9PHGapxhEK
"This is a lifetime of work in a matter of a couple of weeks. I'm making sure there are no distractions for me or my team-mates," he said.
Italy leave it late as Mannion shines
Italy clinched a spot in the last eight by overturning an eight-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to beat Nigeria 80-71 in Group B.
Nico Mannion scored 14 points in 16 minutes, including a vital late effort from deep to help seal Italy's comeback success as Nigeria ended winless following a 24-8 fourth quarter.
"I think everybody is surprised with the way he's playing, he's showing everybody that he's a great player. Also, he's only 20 years old," Achille Polonara said of Golden State Warriors guard Mannion.
"I hope that he can help us like this in the next game, too. He's a great guy, he's very happy to stay with us, and we're very happy to have him."
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