Tokyo 2020 round-up: Kevin Durant leads USA past Spain to semi-finals

Britain take gold in men’s 49er sailing; Sena Irie wins Japan’s first women’s boxing medal

USA’s Kevin Durant goes for a dunk in the men’s quarter-final basketball match between Spain and USA during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena. Photo: Gregory Shamus/AFP via Getty Images

USA’s Kevin Durant goes for a dunk in the men’s quarter-final basketball match between Spain and USA during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena. Photo: Gregory Shamus/AFP via Getty Images

 

Basketball

Kevin Durant led Team USA to a decisive victory over Spain in Olympic men’s basketball on Tuesday, earning a ticket to the semifinals.

The United States were victorious 95-81 despite a valiant 38-point effort from Spain’s Ricky Rubio. Spain had a 10 point lead late in the second quarter when the United States came roaring back.

“We drove it to the rim at the end of the second and were able to get our rhythm back a little bit,” said Durant, who ended up with 29 points. “I like how we played from the end of the second quarter all the way up to finish the game and that’s how winners play ball.”

The Saitama Super Arena north of Tokyo was the fullest it has been so far in these spectatorless Games, as athletes, officials and volunteers gathered for what would have been a hot-ticket match.

The United States will move on to the semifinals on Thursday to face the winner of the quarterfinal between Australia and Argentina.

Team USA have looked strong at these Games after the French handed them their first Olympic defeat. The Americans have historically been the team to beat, with 15 gold medals since 1936, and the players and coaches have made clear they will only be satisfied with one result this time.

“We got to finish it,” said Durant, who plays for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. “You know, we’re supposed to be here. For us, it’s about getting the gold.

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic led Slovenia in a 94-70 victory over Germany to move forward to the semifinals. Doncic has led all players in scoring and is second in rebounds only to his team mate Mike Tobey.

For a nation of just two million people, Slovenia has fielded a powerhouse team in their Olympics debut. While Doncic is the nucleus of their offence, he’s surrounded by team mates who reliably score in the double digits, such as Zoran Dragic who had 36 against Germany.

“Obviously they have one of the best players in the world, but he’s not alone,” Germany head coach Henrik Roedl said about Doncic and the Slovenian team.

It was Germany’s first Olympic quarterfinal since 1992. Italy takes on France and Australia meets Argentina in the remaining playoff matches on Tuesday.

Sailing

Britain’s Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell scored a sensational victory in the men’s 49er class medal race to take gold on Tuesday, with Giles Scott winning another gold for the country in the men’s Finn class shortly afterwards.

In the only mixed racing class at the Games, Italy’s Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti won gold ahead of the British pairing of John Gimson and Anna Burnet, with Paul Kolhoff Alica Stuhlemmer bringing home the bronze for Germany.

In the first medal race of the day, Brazil’s reigning Olympic champions Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze won the women’s 49er FX event. Germany’s Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke took silver and Dutch sailors Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz picked up bronze.

In the final Olympic race for the Finn class, which will be dropped from subsequent Olympics after Tokyo 2020, Scott held off Zsombor Berecz of Hungary, who took the silver medal, and third-placed Joan Cardona Mendez.

British duo Fletcher and Bithell edged out 2016 Olympic champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand, who took the silver, with Germany’s Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel taking the bronze.

“It was close. I guess gold medals are often won on fine margins and so to do it there, I think it was fantastic, hopefully a good race for the fans ... very stressful but amazing,” Fletcher told reporters.

In second place coming into the women’s medal race, the Brazilians kept their cool as the fleet battled for position, with the Dutch pairing, who started the race first in the overall standings, slipping down the fleet.

With the lowest total points winning the competition, Grael and Kunze finished with a total of 76 points, beating the Germans (83 points) and the Dutch (88 points) to take the gold.

“There was a lot of close points and we knew we just needed a clear lane to sail fast, and we managed to get that after the start and we’re very glad that it worked out,” Grael told reporters.

The two 49er medal races were among those postponed from Monday due to a lack of wind at the harbour, and competitors were glad to get out on the water after a day of inactivity as winds picked up on Tuesday.

Boxing

Japan’s self-described “unathletic” Sena Irie upset featherweight world champion Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines to take Olympic gold by unanimous decision on Tuesday, delivering the host nation’s maiden medal in women’s boxing.

The 20-year-old university student looked light on her feet as she peppered Petecio with jabs and capped the third round with a convincing combination.

Yet the woman nicknamed ‘Irie-wani’ - Japanese for saltwater crocodile - said she was not a natural athlete, adding she hoped her victory would encourage others who felt they weren’t talented at sports.

“I’m really not good at sports, so I feel like I could kind of show kids who also aren’t athletic that they can accomplish something if they don’t give up,” she told reporters after.

She and Petecio both shed tears on the podium, with the Filipina looking overcome with emotion as she clutched her silver medal to her chest.

“Before I knew it I was on the podium and the national anthem was playing. Somehow I had become world no1 and I became a little tearful,” Irie said.

Petecio, who was widely seen as favourite, also delivered a maiden medal for her country in women’s boxing. She dedicated the fight to her coaches, as well as the memory of a deceased friend, adding she was proud to be part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT).

Italian Irma Testa and Briton Karriss Artingstall were awarded bronze.

Although taking place without spectators, a few dozen Japanese, clad in the blue t-shirts of venue volunteers, lined the upper balcony of the Kokugikan Arena to cheer.

They were more subdued than a much smaller contingent of Petecio fans, who appeared to be from her national delegation, and lit up the venue with cheering and flag-waving.

In men’s boxing, top-ranked heavyweight Muslim Gadzhimagomedov of the Russian Olympic Committee made it through to the finals after he overcame David Nyika of New Zealand.

American featherweight Duke Ragan beat Ghana’s Samuel Takyi to make it to the finals.

Takyi’s bronze will be Ghana’s first Olympic medal since 1992, when their men’s soccer team took bronze at Barcelona. It marks the West African country’s fourth gold overall.

“I’m going to correct my mistakes,” Takyi said after the fight. “I’m not going to lose again, I hate to lose.”

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