Kevin Durant led Team USA’s victory over France in the men’s basketball final in Tokyo on Saturday, avenging a first-round loss and claiming a 16th gold for the country in the sport.
France handed the United States their first Olympic basketball defeat since 2004 in the group stage but they could not repeat the feat in the final, narrowly going down 87-82 in Saitama.
NBA All-Star Durant poured in a game-high 29 points as the Americans survived some nervous late moments.
“You realise, you know, you finished the job, you get the gold medal, you get the trophy, but when you go through that journey, it’s just incredible to be a part of something so special,” said the Brooklyn Nets star who has now won three Olympic gold medals.
The US team had been slow to start in previous matches, but they kept the heat on France consistently this time. But it was 18 turnovers that proved to be the killer for France.
“Details cost us the game for sure,” said French team captain Nicolas Batum. “You can’t turnover that much against that type of team.”
The championship attracted the biggest crowd yet in these Games to the arena north of Tokyo, with the bottom bowl of seats about half full of athletes, officials, media and volunteers in place of fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.
France earned their third Olympic silver medal in men’s basketball.
Slovenia, making their debut at the Games, will play Australia in the bronze medal match later on Saturday.
Elsewhere on Saturday, American Nelly Korda sealed women’s golf gold and Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir won the women’s marathon in intense heat in Sapporo.
Top-ranked Korda, sister of six-time US LPGA Tour winner Jessica and daughter of former tennis player Petr, held her nerve on the resumption to complete an American golf sweep after Xander Schauffele won the men’s competition.
Jepchirchir, who timed 2 hours 27min and 20sec in hot and humid conditions in Sapporo – the second slowest winning time for a women’s Olympic marathon.
The race, moved from Tokyo to avoid the capital’s summer heat, started an hour early as Sapporo was also hit by sweltering conditions.
The marathon was one of the few events where fans were allowed at the Olympics, which have mostly unfolded in front of empty venues because of coronavirus risks.
In boxing, British former factory worker Galal Yafai defeated Carlo Paalam of the Philippines in the men’s flyweight final, and Bulgaria’s Stoyka Krasteva won the women’s flyweight.