Durant leads US past Spain, France set up Slovenia semis


SAITAMA: The United States kept their basketball gold medal dreams on track by sweeping past world champions Spain 95-81 and into the semi-finals, while Olympic debutants Slovenia crushed Germany to set up a last-four clash with France.

Sharp-shooting Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant poured in 29 points and four assists for the Americans while Boston’s Jayson Tatum chipped in 13, nullifying Ricky Rubio’s dazzling 38-point spree for Spain.

Slovenia progressed on the back of 27 points from Zoran Dragic and another 20 off Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic in their 94-70 rout of Germany.

They will meet France who edged Italy 84-75 in a nail-biter, with Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert drilling 22 points and fellow NBA mainstay Evan Fournier getting 21.

Gregg Popovich’s US team came to Tokyo with two shock defeats in exhibition games and then crashed in their opener against eventual Group A winners France – their first defeat at an Olympics since 2004.

But they have steadied the ship and came through a see-sawing clash after knuckling down in the final stretch to go 13-0 against their rivals in Olympic competition.

“We’re in a good spot right now. Guys are starting to understand their roles and just get more comfortable within the team,” said Durant.

“I love how we stuck with it throughout this whole period of time and guys started figuring out what we need to do.” — AFP

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