RIO DE JANEIRO, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 15th Augst,2016) - Sharp-shooting Klay Thompson had 30 points as America's NBA stars once again laboured to shut down an Olympic opponent but ultimately proved too much for France in a 100-97 win. Sunday's result means the two-time defending gold medallists win their group with a 5-0 record, with knockout phases starting on Wednesday. After close calls the past two games against Australia and Serbia that dented their aura of invincibility, the Americans once again faced a stiff challenge.
France kept it close early and was down by only nine points at the half, 55-46, as they kept finding ways to get through the American defensive press. But Thompson got hot in the third quarter, eventually shooting 7-for-13 from the three-point line, and France ran out of time in their attempt to rally. Defence has been both the US calling card and an emerging worry as they seek a widely expected third straight gold. Throwing smothering pressure at opponents, they came into the France game leading the field with an average 18.
8 turnovers forced per game and 24.8 points off those thefts. But in their last two games, Australia and Serbia kept finding ways to score, and threatened the Americans down the stretch. The 94-91 win over Serbia on Friday was the USA's narrowest Olympic escape since they settled for bronze in 2004 at Athens. They have not lost a game in the Olympics since Athens, or internationally for a decade. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the Serbia game that the newly assembled squad of NBA players was still learning how to handle international teams that use constant ball movement to work deep into a possession for good shots.
Clinching Group A means the USA will face the number four team in Group B in the quarter-finals. That unenviable position could go to Spain, Croatia or Brazil, who must win in their final Group B games on Monday to advance. Argentina and Lithuania, both 3-1, are already through in Group B and will be seeking wins Monday to clinch the group and avoid the USA's knockout bracket.