Team USA beats France in Olympic Basketball Final

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SAITAMA, Japan – It wasn’t always pretty, but eventually the United States men’s basketball team rose to the heights they’d always expected to reach. Off to a slow start to the Olympic tournament, the Americans won their 16th gold medal at the event, beating France 87-82 relatively comfortably in the final match at Saitama Super Arena on Saturday morning.

In front of a large crowd—not fans, but national team staff, Olympic volunteers, and journalists—the United States looked much more cohesive and confident than they had lost to France in the competition’s opening game.

This competition revealed some of their first problems as a team, namely the lack of familiarity as a group. But on Saturday morning there were none of these problems.

“It’s a lot of joy from the relief, but definitely some relief from the prospects of Team USA,” said Damian Lillard, who finished the game with 11 points and three assists and stepped forward in time for the second half. He added: “Finally getting there, playing the gold medal game, it’s almost like you’re out of breath.”

Kevin Durant was once again the focus and main driver of the team, scoring 29 points with six rebounds. Jayson Tatum also marked the end of the game with 19 points.

“The best scorer in basketball,” said Rudy Gobert, who scored 16 points and 8 rebounds for France before being fouled in the final moments of the game as he tried to stop Durant. He will do what he does on the biggest stage, especially the Olympic Games.”

The Americans had an 8-point lead into the final quarter and relied on the French several runs to finish the game. France gave them a glimmer of hope by cutting the lead to 85-82 with 10.2 seconds left. However, Durant fired two free throws to effectively protect the result.

“This was the first time we really played together,” said Jrue Holiday, who won an NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks before joining the USA team in Tokyo. About France, he added: “It was great for us to be able to meet them again, to meet them in the gold medal match.”

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