A United States team under 11-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant were beaten 83-76 by France in a huge Olympic basketball upheaval on Sunday.
The French, with a team made up of NBA players including Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier, inflicted the Americans’ first loss at the Olympics since the Athens Games in 2004.
Durant was limited to just ten points in the first round game and couldn’t inspire his side as the French came from behind to gain control in the final quarter.
The Americans had looked rusty in preparation for Tokyo, losing to Nigeria in a warm-up match, and the loss will underline Durant’s concerns expressed ahead of the Games that his team will not face a “cakewalk” in the game. Japan.
Fournier was sensational for France, with 28 points. Although the Boston Celtics player scored just four of 12 points beyond the three-point line, he found his reach when it was important to help the French stun the Americans.
“I tried to be aggressive. As an NBA player, I know the players we were up against. We had to show the team how to attack them,” Fournier said.
France regained a ten-point deficit to set up a thrilling final quarter and as the United States failed to find a rhythm, the French scented victory in the Saitama arena, where spectators were absent at cause of measures against the coronavirus.
Fournier’s three-point shot with 57 seconds left gave his side the advantage 76-74 and when Durant himself touched the edge with a three-point shot the French closed the game with a succession. of free throws.
When Jayson Tatum fouled Nicolas Batum, the French NBA veteran punched both from the line to seal a famous victory.
Utah Jazz center Gobert played down the French victory.
âI mean, it’s great, but until we have what we want to have around our necks, it doesn’t really matter,â Gobert said.
The United States team will face Iran in their next game on Wednesday when France takes on host country Japan. (AFP)