Miami Heat of America’s Nigerian-born ace, Bam Adebayo featured prominently in the marquee match that fetched the United States a fourth straight gold medal in the Olympic Games’ men’s basketball event.
Adebayo was in the Americans’ starting line-up and ended the day with six points, six rebounds and four assists, as Team USA won their fourth consecutive gold medal by beating France 87-82 on Saturday.
Though Nigerian basketball fans and the country in general would take delight in knowing that Adebayo was part of the USA’s surge to glory, the real star of the day happened to be Kevin Durant, who won his third Olympics gold medal in the sport of giants.
Megasportsarena.com repots further that Durant led the way with 29 points, including two key free throws with 8.8 seconds remaining to seal victory and hold off a ferocious French comeback attempt in Saitama, Japan.
He scored 30 in each of his previous two gold medal games and cemented himself as the USA’s greatest international player of all time, as he sealed the win by knocking down two free throws with 8.8 seconds left.
Durant joins Carmelo Anthony as the only three-time basketball gold medalists in Olympic Games’ history and the s the only three-time men’s gold medalists in Olympic basketball history, ending a summer that started with sputters but closed with celebration.
The lead was five, France’s final possession was irrelevant, and the victorious players gathered for a hug at midcourt, Durant, Adebayo and Draymond Green wrapped themselves in American flags, and the journey was complete.
Jayson Tatum, on fire off the bench, finished with 19 points, as Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday each scored 11 for the US, while Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert each got 16 points for France, a country which now has four silver medals, all from defeats by USA in previous finals.
Guerschon Yabusele scored 13, Nando de Colo had 12 and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot hit 11, even as Frank Ntilikina’s 3-pointer got France within 73-70 with 5:42 left, but the US had a quick answer in the form of a 9-2 run that restored a 10-point lead on Tatum’s 3-pointer.
From there, it was just a matter of finishing the job, ending a tipsy-turvey summer that started with two exhibition losses and an opening match at the 2020 Olympics with a loss to France, but none of that seemed to matter much at the end.
The mission was accomplished: Gold, again. The 16th time in 19 Olympic tries for the US and Jrue Holiday now is an Olympic gold medalist, just as his wife Lauren was twice with their country’s women’s soccer team.
JaVale McGee now has Olympic gold, just like his mother Pamela won with the U.S. women in basketball at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
For Milwaukee Bucks teammates, Holiday and Khris Middleton, it also marks their admission into a rare club: Before now, only Scottie Pippen (who did it twice), Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had won an NBA title and Olympic gold in the same year.
USA’s coach, Gregg Popovich also adds gold to the bronze medal he earned as an assistant coach at Athens in 2004, completing an Olympic journey that started half a century ago, as he had been playing for the Air Force Academy and tried unsuccessfully to make the 1972 Games.
Popovich joked earlier this summer that he had a tough task on his hands, after replacing three-time gold medal-winning coach, Mike Krzyzewski in charge, saying: “The powers that be actually selected Doug Collins instead of me, it’s hard to believe. Being part of the Olympics has been a dream.”