Team USA, led by Kevin Durant’s 30-point performance, crushed Serbia 96-66 to win the finals of the Rio Olympics to secure a third consecutive Olympics gold medal on Sunday.
The match-up was expected to be closer after the U.S. escaped a narrow 94-91 victory during the preliminary stage game. However, it seemed like the Americans saved their best for last and showed up when the chips were on the line. |Final Box Score|
The victory also sealed Team USA’s 25th consecutive victory in the Olympics dating back to the 2008 Beijing Games.
During the course of the Rio Games, several analysts questioned if Team USA was on the brink of an upset defeat, especially after they survived three close games against the Australians, the Serbians and the Spaniards.
Team USA win 25th in a row
However, Carmelo Anthony, the highest scorer in American Olympics history, said the team was confident of a gold medal finish despite being put to the test by several nations.
“I know there was kind of a lot of buzz around us not playing well a couple of games, two, three games in the early round. But the way that we locked in and the way that we focused in to be able to have this gold medal around our necks was special,” said Anthony, who became the first player in American history to win three gold medals.
Durant thanked coach Mike Krzyzewski, who took charge of the team following the disastrous 2004 Athens campaign which saw the Americans suffer three defeats and a bronze medal finish.
“To go home as gold medalists and leave Coach K off with another gold was one of our main goals as well. To come out there and play as well as we did against a team that had stepped up their play as well, it showed that we came together at the right time,” said Durant, who will now join his new team the Golden State Warriors for training camp next month.
Coach Krzyzewski said the young team which was missing superstars LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Chris Paul, would return home better players with more international experience.
“This team kept getting better and even those three games in pool play, we had not played that type of game against that type of level of opponent. We said it was a learning experience and our guys did learn and we put it to good practice,” said Krzyzewski.
Team USA was represented by 10 Olympic newcomers.