Road To The Olympic Games


United States routs China in men's basketball

The U.S. Olympic men's basketball team began its charge toward a third straight gold medal with a 119-62 rout of China on Saturday. Kevin Durant scored 25 points and Demarcus Cousins added 17 for the win.

Kevin Durant leads way with 25 points

The United States' DeMar DeRozan throws down an emphatic dunk over China's Zhao Jiwei. (Eric Gay, The Associated Press)

Kevin Durant and this new-look U.S. Olympic basketball team look just as dominant as the ones who slammed and jammed their way to the last two gold medals.

Durant picked up right where he left off in the 2012 Olympics with 25 points, and the Americans routed China 119-62 on Saturday in their opening game.

"When you get hot, you want to see your bench get excited for you," Durant said. "That's better than making the shot, to be honest with you. When I saw my teammates get excited for me, that kept me going."

The new Golden State Warriors star scored 30 points four years ago in the gold-medal game, when the Americans held off Spain for the championship. Only he and Carmelo Anthony returned from that team, but the new guys were plenty ready for their Olympic moment.

DeMarcus Cousins added 17 points and Paul George 15 for the U.S., which is a heavy favourite to win a third straight gold and won't change any opinions after this performance.

Tougher competition might come later, but it should be an easy start for the Americans. They play again Monday against Venezuela, another team they beat easily in exhibition play.

Anthony finished with nine points and made by history becoming the first U.S. male to play basketball in four Olympics. He will become the first three-time gold medalist on the men's side if the U.S. wins.

"We just wanted to send a statement to the rest of the world," Anthony said. "Come out this first game and let everybody know that we're focused, we're locked in and we're about business on this trip."

The 32-year-old veteran tied LeBron James and David Robinson by playing in his 24th game in the Olympics.

Former NBA lottery pick Yi Jianlian had 25 points to open his fourth Olympics. No other players were in double figures for the Asian champions.

DeAndre Jordan shook the backboards inside Carioca Arena 1 with some of his powerful dunks, DeMar DeRozan had a couple, and in case the dunks were too easy, Irving knocked in four 3-pointers in the second half for his 12 points.

Bogut shines as Australia defeats France

Andrew Bogut wanted one more shot to represent Australia at the Olympics and wasn't going to let an injury take that away again.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft tumbled to the floor with a hyperextended knee in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and no one really expected him to get up this summer.

But here he is in Rio, making a nearly perfect debut.

The new Dallas Maverick looked fully recovered, scoring 18 points on 9 for 10 shooting in Australia's 87-66 win over France on Saturday. He played his usual complete game, pulling four rebounds to go with five assists.

Bogut said after the injury, his plans were still to play in the Olympics, there was just the matter of how the knee felt. There was extra motivation after missing the 2012 London Games with an ankle injury and dealing with back spasms during a regional Olympic qualifier in 2015. The 31-year old may not get another chance to play on this stage.

"I didn't want it taken away that easily. I said I'll give it a crack up until this day. If it wasn't right yesterday, I'd put my hand up and I'm on a flight back home."

He caught six alley-oops despite playing a France team with Utah Jazz 7-foot-1 centre and defensive specialist Rudy Gobert. Bogut had previously played sparingly against China and Spain in exhibitions since the NBA Finals.

It was a big win for an Australian team that has never medalled in the Olympics. This may be their best team in international play with five NBA players and France was considered by many to be the second-best team in the tournament. The Frenchmen also had five NBA players on the roster.

Serbia tops Venezuela

Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 19 points and Serbia got its first Olympic basketball victory as an independent nation, beating Venezuela 86-62 on Saturday night.

Miroslav Raduljica added 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting for Serbia, part of an international basketball power in the old Yugoslavia but absent from the Olympics since 2004, when it competed as Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia became an independent country two years later.


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