Popovich on winning gold: ‘Every championship is special, and the group you’re with is special’

At times, many thought that the Team USA men’s basketball team would not win gold in Tokyo, especially after losing exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia in Las Vegas and losing to France in their Olympic opener.

However, due to the greatness of Kevin Durant, Team USA was able to capture its fourth consecutive gold medal by defeating France 87-82 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on Saturday.

Durant, who scored 29 points in the gold medal game, was the leader for Team USA and has played a significant role in each of the last three golds. He’s scored 30 points in each of the previous two gold-medal games and now is tied with Carmelo Anthony for the most gold medals in Olympic men’s basketball history.

“I hate to compare stuff because you know everything is its own moment,” Durant said postgame. “But this is one of those special journeys that it’s just hard to describe because each and every one of us put in that work every single day, from the coaches to the trainers, to the players. We all came in with that goal of, ‘Let’s finish this thing off. Let’s build a family. Let’s build this team. Let’s grow this team every day.’ And when you are part of a team that’s evolving by the second, it’s just amazing to see.”

U.S. coach Gregg Popovich has five NBA titles, and now, he has a gold medal.

“Every championship is special, and the group you’re with is special,” he said. “But I can be honest and say this is the most responsibility I’ve ever felt because you’re playing for so many people that are watching and for your country and other countries involved. The responsibility was awesome, and I felt it every day for several years now. I’m feeling pretty light now and looking forward to getting back to the hotel and having something.”

Milwaukee Bucks teammates Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, who joined the Olympic team in the early morning hours before the U.S. played France in pool play, became the fourth and fifth players to win the NBA Finals and an Olympic gold in the same year.

According to Holiday, this was a great summer.

“Getting in at one in the morning, me, Book(Devin Booker) and Khris(Middleton), and then playing that night against France, losing that game and then being able to go through the rest of the tournament and then winning the gold medal game,” Holiday said. “I don’t know — I guess me thinking about it, and me telling that story, man, that’s a hell of a summer.”

Give this team a lot of credit. They battled hard to win a gold medal. In the end, the world has caught up. However, the United States is still the top dog in men’s basketball.

Photo: (Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)

Team USA men’s basketball advances to semifinals after defeating Spain

On Tuesday, Team USA’s Kevin Durant and Spain’s Ricky Rubio went toe-to-toe, but Durant and Team USA got the victory 95-81 to advance to the Olympic semifinals.

Durant scored 13 of his 29 points in the third quarter, while Rubio scored 38 points. However, Jayson Tatum had 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter to help put Spain away. Jrue Holiday added 12 points, Damian Lillard 11, and Zach LaVine 10 points.

Sergio Rodriguez added 16 points, and Willy Hernangomez 10 points and 10 rebounds for Spain. The Americans improved to 13-0 versus Spain in Olympic action.

“The game is about buckets,” Durant said. “When you see the ball go in the rim, everybody’s got more energy — coaches, players, trainers, everybody. We started making shots, made some 3s, and guys calmed down and made some stops.”

The game was knotted at 43 at halftime, but Team USA started the third quarter on fire and locked down Spain on defense. They hit five 3-pointers and Spain did not make a field goal for almost six minutes to begin the second half. 

Team USA seems to be coming together at the right time. After losing three out of their first five games(including exhibition games), they have won three straight.

“I think the potential of this team is endless,” Draymond Green said. “Unfortunately, we (only) got two games left. So, we need to make sure that we’re continuing to get better each and every time we step on the floor, and I think that’s why we’ve done it.”

The U.S. will face Australia in Thursday’s semifinals. Team USA lost to Australia in an exhibition game in July, but they have an opportunity to get revenge at the Olympics. 

Photo: Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)
 

Team USA Women’s basketball to face Australia in medal round

Following the 2020 Olympic women’s basketball preliminary round, FIBA conducted the draw to determine quarterfinal pairings for the Tokyo Olympic basketball medal round on Monday night in Saitama, Japan. The U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team (3-0) will take on Australia (1-2) to open medal round play on Wednesday, Aug. 4 (1:40 p.m. JST / 12:40 p.m. EDT).

“We’re in the quarterfinals playing a team like Australia, who we’re very familiar with,” said USA head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina). “Australia will be a formidable opponent because we know each other so well, and we look forward to the challenge of getting out of the quarterfinals. We certainly have to execute on both sides of the ball and continue to get better to advance.”

After dropping its opener to Belgium (85-70) and a close contest to China (76-74), in order to advance Australia had to defeat Puerto Rico in its final pool play game by 25 points. After trailing 45-44 heading into the locker room, Australia stormed out in the second half for a 27-point, 96-69 victory to advance.

The other three quarterfinals games will feature China (3-0), which won Group C, against Group A second place finisher Serbia (1-2); Group A first place finisher Spain (3-0) will meet up against France (1-2), the third-place team out of Group B; while host Japan (2-1), which finished second in Group B, will compete against Group C second place finisher Belgium (2-1).

Winners of the USA versus Australia game will face the winner of the China versus Serbia contest in the first of two semifinal contests on Aug. 6 (1:40 p.m. JST / 12:40 p.m. EDT), while the winners of the other two quarterfinal games will square off in the second semifinal (8 p.m. JST / 7 a.m. EDT).

Semifinals winners advance to the Aug. 8 gold medal game (11:30 a.m. JST / Aug. 7 at 10:30 p.m. EDT), while the bronze medal game will be played on Aug. 7 (4 p.m. JST / 3 a.m. EDT).

Teams eliminated from the Olympic women’s basketball tournament are Nigeria (0-3) from Group B, South Korea (0-3) from Group A, Puerto Rico (0-3) from Group C and Canada (1-2), which finished in second place out of Group A.

The No. 1 team in the world and following its three preliminary games, the USA owns an all-time record of 69-3 in Olympic play and is riding a 52-game winning streak in Olympic competition, which began with the 1992 bronze medal game, includes a record six-straight gold medals and three victories in Tokyo.

Photo: Team USA

Team USA Men’s basketball to battle Spain in medal round quarterfinals

With preliminary round play completed, FIBA (International Basketball Federation) conducted the draw for the Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball medal round quarterfinals Sunday night, and the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team (2-1) will face Spain (2-1)  on Tuesday, Aug. 3 at 12:40 a.m. EDT.

Other August 3 quarterfinals pairings unveiled Sunday included Group B first-place finisher Australia (3-0) versus Group C third-place finisher Argentina (1-2) at 8:00 a.m. EDT; Group A first-place finisher France (3-0) versus Group B second-place finisher Italy (2-1) at 4:20 a.m. EDT; and Group C first-place finisher Slovenia (3-0) versus Group B third-place finisher Germany (1-2) at 9:00 p.m. EDT on Aug. 2.

Winners of the USA/Spain and Australia/Argentina quarterfinal games will meet in one semifinal on Aug. 5, while the winners of the France/Italy and Slovenia/Germany quarterfinal games will face off in the other semifinal. Semifinal winners will advance to the Aug. 7 gold medal game (10:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 6), while semifinal losing teams will advance to the bronze medal game (7:00 a.m. EDT).

Four teams were eliminated from the medal round, including Pool A third-place finisher Czech Republic (1-2), Pool A fourth-place finisher Iran (0-3), Pool C fourth-place finisher Japan (0-3) and Pool B fourth-place finisher Nigeria (0-3).

The American men concluded Olympic Pool A preliminary round play with a 2-1 record, losing  their opening game to France 83-76 and recording victories over Iran 120-66 and Czech Republic 119-84.

The USA’s quarterfinal opponent, Spain, defeated Japan 88-77 and Argentina 81-71, and lost to Slovenia 95-87 in Group C preliminary play.

The XXXII Olympic Games men’s basketball competition is being held July 23-Aug. 7 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic men’s basketball tournament features a different format than in past Games.

The 12 competing men’s teams were drawn into three groups of four teams apiece for preliminary play that was contested July 27-Aug. 3. Following completion of the preliminary round, the top two finishing teams from each pool and the two best third-place teams, according to FIBA’s placement rules, qualified for the medal round and were re-seeded.

The U.S. men have won the gold medal in the last three Olympics and have medaled in all 18 Olympics in which they have competed, including 15 gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals. The Americans currently own an impressive 140-6 all-time record (.956 winning percentage) in Olympic action. Since NBA players began representing the United States in 1992, the USA is 53-3 in the previous seven Olympics, capturing six gold medals and one bronze medal.

Photo: Team USA

Johnson, McGee added to Team USA, Love withdraws

USA Basketball announced on Friday the addition of USA Select Team guard Keldon Johnson (San Antonio Spurs) and NBA veteran center JaVale McGee (Denver Nuggets) to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball roster. Johnson and McGee fill openings created after Bradley Beal went into health and safety protocol and following Kevin Love’s announcement Friday morning that he was withdrawing from the team due to his ongoing calf recovery.

The pair join previously announced U.S. Olympic Team 2020 members: Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets), Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks) and Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics).

Because of their current involvement in the 2021 NBA Finals, Booker, Holiday, and Middleton will join the USA squad after completion of the Finals.

The USA coaching staff is led by head coach Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) with assistant coaches Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors), Lloyd Pierce, and Jay Wright (Villanova University).

Johnson, a 6-foot-5 guard, attended the national team’s Las Vegas training camp as a member of the USA Select Team and was added to the USA roster for the team’s exhibition games. He has seen action in two of the USA’s three exhibition games in Las Vegas, averaging 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Having completed his second season with the Spurs in 2020-21, he started 67 of the 69 games he played in and averaged 12.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

A 7-foot center, McGee completed in 2020-21 his 13th NBA regular season. Playing 33 games in 2020-21 for the Cleveland Cavaliers and 13 games for the Denver Nuggets, McGee averaged 7.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocked shots per game.

The rescheduled Summer Olympic Games are being held July 23-Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan. Twelve nations will compete in the Olympic men’s basketball competition that will be held at the Saitama Super Arena. In addition, to host Japan, nations qualified for the Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball competition include Argentina, Australia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Nigeria, Slovenia, Spain, and the United States. 

The American men will open the Olympic preliminary round play on July 25 against France (8 a.m. EDT), then will play Iran on July 28 (12:40 a.m. EDT) and will close out preliminary play on July 31 (8:00 a.m. EDT) versus the Czech Republic.

2020 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team revealed, Taurasi, Bird selected for fifth time

With just over four weeks to go before the 2020 Olympic Opening Ceremony, the 2020 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team was unveiled this morning in front of a nationally televised audience on NBC’s TODAY show and features two now five-time Olympians, one four-time Olympian, one three-time Olympian, two who will be competing in their second Olympics and six who will step on the Olympic court for the first time this summer.

Team selections for the six-time defending Olympic gold medalists USA were made by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee and pending approval by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

Headlining the team are longtime USA National Team members Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), who each donned a USA Basketball jersey for the first time in 2000 and own a combined eight Olympic and seven FIBA World Cup gold medals, and three-time Olympic gold medalist Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), who also captured gold at the 2010 FIBA World Cup.

Expecting to play in a third Olympic Games is Tina Charles (Washington Mystics), a three-time World Cup gold medalist; while 2016 Olympic gold medalists Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) and Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm), each of whom have captured at two World Cup gold medals, return to chase a second Olympic gold in Tokyo.

Two athletes who are pursuing their first Olympic gold medal and who already own a FIBA World Cup gold medal are Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces).

Stepping onto the world stage for the first time at a FIBA senior-level five-on-five competition will be Ariel Atkins (Washington Mystics), Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx), Skylar Diggins-Smith (Phoenix Mercury) and Chelsea Gray (Las Vegas Aces).

“USA Basketball has never been in a better place,” said U.S. Olympic Team head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina), who claimed three gold medals as an athlete and helped guide two more Olympic teams to gold as an assistant coach. “I’m honored to be the coach of such an amazing collection of talented women, both those named to the team and those who gave their all the last few years but won’t be with us in Tokyo. The fact that some of the players who won’t suit up this summer would start for any other country is a testament to their talent and to what USA Basketball has done to build a program that lifts up our female athletes every single day.  I’m so proud to be the coach of Team USA and like all of the coaches, support staff, and our players, I can’t wait to make America proud this summer.”

The XXXII Olympic Games women’s basketball competition will be held July 26-Aug. 8 at the Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan.

Additionally, the team includes four athletes who have been named USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year a combined nine times. Taurasi leads the list with four (2006, 2010, 2012, 2016), Stewart earned it three times (2011, 2013, 2018) and Charles (2009) and Wilson (2015) also have earned the honor.

All 12 athletes took part in the 2019-20 USA Basketball National Team expanded training program which saw the USA post a 17-1 record, including 5-1 against NCAA Division I teams in exhibition games and 12-0 versus international teams in FIBA-sanctioned competitions.

With their fifth Olympics looming, Bird and Taurasi are poised to join an extremely elite club. Since 1936 when men’s basketball first was officially included on the Olympic program and 1976 when women’s basketball was first played in the Olympics, only six athletes worldwide have competed in five Olympic basketball competitions. In addition to the USA’s Teresa Edwards, who captured four gold medals and one bronze medal from 1984-2000, Spain’s Juan Carlos Navarro (2000-16, two silver medals and one bronze medal), Brazil’s Adriana Moisés Pinto (2000-16, one bronze medal) and Oscar Schmidt (1980-96), Australia’s Andrew Gaze (1984-2000) and Puerto Rico’s Teófilo Cruz (1960-76) round out the list.

Additionally, Fowles will join a short list of American basketball players who have competed in at least four Olympics. In addition to Bird, Edwards and Taurasi, USA Basketball four-time Olympians include Carmelo Anthony (2004-2016), Tamika Catchings (2004-2016) and Lisa Leslie (1996-2008).