Defending champion United States and European champion Spain booked a Rio Olympic semi-final showdown of NBA stars with triumphs on Wednesday while Australia, boasting four NBA champions, earned a las
Defending champion United States and European champion Spain booked a Rio Olympic semi-final showdown of NBA stars with triumphs on Wednesday while Australia, boasting four NBA champions, earned a last-four date with Serbia.
Kevin Durant scored 27 points to power the Americans over Argentina 105-78, stretching their Olympic win streak to 23 games and their 10-year overall win streak to 74.
After their slimmest wins in the Olympic streak — three-point group-stage triumphs over France and Serbia — the US millionaire lineup started slow but showed top form against a veteran foe.
“I think we got our swagger back,” US guard Paul George said. “We were confident shooting, we were aggressive, we kept our poise.”
Spain routed France 92-67 to book a Friday semi-final rematch with a USA side that beat them 107-100 in the 2012 Olympic final and 118-107 for 2008 gold.
“We face them everyday in the NBA,” Spain guard Ricky Rubio said. “We know how tough it’s going to be.”
Australia dumped Lithuania 90-64 as NBA title winners Patty Mills scored 24 points, Aron Baynes had 16 and Matthew Dellavedova added 15 to pace a Boomers side seeking a first Olympic medal.
“We have set the goal of winning the gold medal. Today was just another step in the journey,” Dellavedova said.
“We’re going to have to work hard for it but that’s something we’re willing to do.”
Serbia edged Croatia 86-83 as Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 14 of his 18 points in a third-quarter fightback that gave his team the lead for good.
Croatia, led by Bojan Bogdanovic’s 28 points, pulled within 80-79 with 19 seconds remaining but Milos Teodosic and Nikola Jokic sank late free throws to secure Serbia’s victory and date with Australia.
Spain’s Nikola Mirotic scored 23 points but the Chicago Bulls forward will face fellow NBA defenders against the USA team the Spanish must oust for another chance at gold.
“We know it’s going to be a tough matchup,” Spain guard Jose Calderon said.
Argentina jumped ahead 19-9 after six minutes, relying on the game’s shortest man, 1.81m (5ft 11in) guard Facundo Campazzo, for eight points early.
Durant shone but his teammates shot 3-of-12 from the floor and were outplayed before a timeout. Then everything changed.
The US outscored Argentina 27-2 over the next six minutes to seize command at 36-21, looking like the dominant force expected since the roster was named.