By Mark Angelo Mañez

PHOTO: The Rivers Forum

Kevin Durant waxed hot all-around as he towed the United States in their quest for their fourth successive gold medal with a 95-81 bruising of Spain in the knockout quarterfinal phase of the Men's Olympic basketball competition, Tuesday at the Saitama Super Arena.

Durant poured 29 markers and led four others, including 13 in that pivotal 3rd quarter storm, which broke the 43-all tie. Jayson Tatum punched in 13, Jrue Holiday chipped 12, Damian Lillard with 11, and Zach LaVine with 10, all to negate Ricky Rubio's 38-point career night.

“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.”

Spain's enigmatic duo of Pau and Marc Gasol, meanwhile announced their retirement from national team play. The brothers have combined for numerous championships, including 3 NBA titles and were part of the 2006 FIBA World title squad.


Opening the quarterfinal action, France withstood a ferocious fightback from Italy before chalking up an 84-75 wringer. Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum and Rudy Gobert were simply too much for the Italians, who are seeking their third Olympic final since 1980 in Moscow. The trio combined for 58 points with Thomas Heurtel chiming up 10 markers. Simone Fontecchio, meanwhile led Italy with his 23-point padding.

Slovenia, meanwhile, went red-hot all game as they torched Germany, 94-70, as Zoran Dragic and Luka Doncic plowed half of the team's output and send their opponents packing.

PHOTO: Philippine Star

The Slovenians shot 68% from the field, and even hotter from long range, connecting 15  out of their 35 attempts. Germany meanwhile had Maodo Lo carrying the team with his 11 point effort.

In the night cap, Australia secured their semis ticket with a masterful 97-59 drubbing of Argentina. Patty Mills led four others with 18 points, while Nicolas Laprovittola carried La Albiceleste with 16. 


Both teams went tooth and nail for three periods before the Boomers broke away with a 37-11 pour in the payoff period.

Argentina's legend Luis Scola only produced 7 markers, but those were enough, and was praised by both nations for his longetivity in the sport. The 41-year-old started his international career with a silver at the 2002 FIBA World Cup in Indianapolis, before leading Argentina's 'Golden Generation' with Manu Ginobili and Andres Nocioni taking home gold at the 2004 Athens Games.

Both semifinal matches will start 12:15pm (Manila time) with the Americans continuing their quest for its fourth successive gold medal (and first for coach Gregg Popovich) since 2008.