It’s the USA and France, again, for the Tokyo title – .

0
17
It’s the USA and France, again, for the Tokyo title – .


SAITAMA – For USA Basketball, some eras will end on Saturday. This will be Jerry Colangelo’s last game as general manager of the men’s national team. This will mark the end of Gregg Popovich’s commitment as the team’s coach. Some players will probably wear the American jersey for the last time.

Change is coming.

The Americans just don’t want him to be at the top of the podium.

France – USA Basketball’s new official enemy – awaits the Americans in the gold medal game on Saturday. France have won the last two meetings between the programs, depriving the United States of a chance to play for a medal at the 2019 Basketball World Cup, then winning again the opener for both teams in the Tokyo Olympics.

A d

“We came here with one goal and that is to win a gold medal,” said US guard Damian Lillard. “And now we are in a position to do it. “

It would be a fourth consecutive gold medal for the United States, and if secured, it would mark the longest period of American domination at the Olympics since the program won gold in each. of the first seven tournaments from 1936 to 1968. Kevin Durant can join Carmelo Anthony as the only men in US history with three gold medals, and Popovich – who served his country at the Academy of Air Force of the United States and tried to play for his country in the 1972 Olympics but was not selected – can only add to his long list of achievements in winning gold.

“It was a tough race for us, and for us to be back is exciting,” Durant said.

Later on Saturday, Luka Doncic and Slovenia meet Patty Mills and Australia for bronze, the winning team ensured to win their first Olympic medal in men’s basketball.

A d

The summer for the Americans started with two exhibition losses, followed by the loss to France in the Olympic opener, and the United States had to make double-digit returns – 10 to Spain, 15 against Australia – in each of their last two games just to make the final.

Yet Americans have clearly improved. The French, who include Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier with a long experience in the NBA, among others, agree.

“It’s not the same team we played two weeks ago,” said Frenchman Nicolas Batum, another NBA player on this list.

The only national team that beat the men of the United States three times in a row at the highest level of international competition – the Olympics or what is now called the World Cup, formerly the World Championships – was the Soviet Union. They won the still-debated gold medal at the 1972 Olympics, then topped the Americans at the world championships in 1974 and 1978.

A d

France is one victory away from matching this feat.

“I think, I hope, that we will be ready on Saturday,” said France coach Vincent Collet. “We know Team USA is the favorite in this final. They have been (the) favorites for the last two games. But I hope that when we play against them, we maintain our fire, we maintain our energy, even though we know that they are favored.

This does not seem to be a problem for the French. After France survived the semi-finals against Slovenia with a 90-89 victory – achieved when Batum blocked a lay-up try with 2.4 seconds remaining – Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was asked about his opinion on playing the United States for gold.

“I think it will be something quite special,” said Luwawu-Cabarrot, “because it’s the first one we’re going to win. “

It’s not a level of confidence often heard before teams played in the United States, at least not in this era of sending NBA players to the Olympics. But the French are right about that bluster right now, given the win in China and then rallying to beat the Americans in the group opener. They believe they can win, despite being listed as double-digit underdogs.

A d

“We all knew from the start what they were capable of and we know how they improved each time during the tournament,” said Frenchman Nando de Colo. “We had a good game the first time around and we have a lot of respect for their team. But we will play this final with a lot of confidence, and the most important thing is to stay focused on what we are doing as a team.

This match marks only the second time the United States will have a rematch in the same Olympics against a team that beat the Americans earlier in the tournament. The other case came in 2004, when the United States lost to Lithuania in a group match before winning the rematch in the bronze medal match.

This is the tournament where the Americans realized that everything had to change. Colangelo was hired to rebuild the program, Mike Krzyzewski was hired to coach what became the first three Olympic races, and then the baton was passed to Popovich.

A d

Colangelo has said on several occasions that he would like nothing more than to end his tenure with another gold medal.

France is assured, at worst, to match its best Olympic performance; he got the silver after losing gold medal games to the United States in 1948 and 2000.

Americans – looking for a 16th gold in 19 Olympic appearances – don’t have that luxury. For them, a single result will be sufficient.

“We are here for the gold medal,” said American center Bam Adebayo. “We’re not here to be second.

___

More AP: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here