The 2020 Olympic Men’s Basketball Tournament tipped off in Tokyo on Sunday with a number of players from the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup playing key roles for their respective countries. France ended the first day with the big surprise as it knocked off United States in Group A, where Czech Republic secured its first ever win in Olympic action by defeating Iran. In Group B, Italy managed a big comeback victory over Germany and Australia eased past Nigeria.
France end USA winning streak, Czechs grab first victory
France could not have started its Olympic tournament any better, knocking off the United States 83-76 and snapping the three-time reigning gold medalist’s 25-game winning streak dating back to the 2004 Olympic semifinals. France out-scored the Americans 16-2 in the final 3:19 with Evan Fournier draining two three-pointers among his game-high 28 points, including the go-ahead triple to make it 76-74 with 57 seconds to play. Rudy Gobert added 14 points and 9 rebounds and Nando de Colo of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul pitched in 13 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Jrue Holiday paced United States with 18 points. The Americans, who lost to France in the quarterfinals of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, led by 10 points late in the first half and the score was 45-37 for the United States at the break. It was once again a 10-point deficit for France early in the third quarter before Fournier got France close and de Colo’s triple put the Europeans ahead 55-54. De Colo and Thomas Heurtel of Real Madrid both hit from deep and France was leading 62-56 after 30 minutes only to see the Americans respond with a 13-1 run to lead 69-63. The first day of the game was also in Group A, and Czech Republic grabbed its first-ever Olympic victory with an 85-78 win over Iran. In a format where every point matters since the two best third-placed teams also advance to the quarterfinals, the Czechs will be kind of disappointed as it led by 22 points at one point and it was a 21-point lead after three quarters. Patrik Auda paced the Czechs with 16 points while Tomas Satoransky picked up 6 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 steals, and Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul chipped in 11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Behnam Yakhchalidehkordi scored a game-high 23 points for Iran. The second game in Group A has United States facing France later Sunday in Tokyo.
Group B: Late run gives Italy big win over Germany, Australia ease past Nigeria
Italy opened its Olympic campaign with a massively important 92-82 victory over Germany, closing the game on a 12-0 run and coming back from 12 points down. Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz’s new signing Simone Fontecchio paced five Italians in double figures with 20 points as he drained 5-of-5 three-pointers, including the triple to start the decisive run over the final 4:45 minutes. Danilo Gallinari and Stefano Tonut both had 18 points and Italian captain Nicolo Melli of AX Armani Exchange Milan added seven of his 13 points in the closing surge. Maodo Lo of ALBA Berlin came off the bench to pace Germany with 24 points but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter. Isaac Bonga had 13 points while Andreas Obst of FC Bayern Munich and Moritz Wagner both had 12 points. Germany started on fire, hitting 8-of-13 three-pointers in the first quarter and leading 32-22 after 10 minutes. The margin was 12 points early in the second quarter but Italy trimmed the gap to 46-43 at the half and never let Germany pull away by double digits in the third quarter. The Italians stayed close and then came up big in the end. The second game in Group B saw Australia pick up a comfortable 84-65 victory over Nigeria. Patty Mills collected 25 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals for Australia, who began pulling away in the third quarter. Former EuroLeague champion Joe Ingles and Dante Exum both added 11 points and Nic Kay had 12 points for the Australians. Obi Emegano paced Nigeria with 12 points.
Group C: Action starts Monday
Group C action tips off on Monday, July 26 with Argentina playing Slovenia and 2019 world champion Spain facing host Japan.
Seen at: Euroleague.net