Olympics-Basketball-U.S. beat France to win 16th men's gold

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Basketball - Men - Gold medal match - France v United States - Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan - August 7, 2021. Kevin Durant of the United States celebrates after winning the gold medal match against France wearing the United States flag

SAITAMA (Reuters) - Kevin Durant led Team USA's victory over France in the men's basketball final in Tokyo on Saturday, avenging a first-round loss and claiming a 16th gold for the country in the sport.

Durant, who in these Games surpassed Carmelo Anthony as the United States' highest career scorer, led with 29 points in the 87-82 victory at the Saitama Super Arena.

The championship attracted the biggest crowd yet to the arena north of Tokyo in these Games, with the bottom bowl of seats about half full of athletes, officials, media and volunteers in place of fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.

France earned their third Olympic silver medal in men's basketball. Slovenia, making their debut at the Games, will play Australia in the bronze medal match later on Saturday.

The U.S. men have historically been the team to beat, with 15 gold medals since 1936 going into these Games. This championship marks their fourth straight gold medal.

But this year's team proved to be vulnerable, dropping two-straight exhibition games in July and suffering a shock 83-76 defeat to France in the preliminary round of the Games, which was their first defeat https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/basketball-czech-republic-beat-iran-basketball-begins-tokyo-2021-07-25 on the Olympic stage since 2004.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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