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U.S. men rout Serbia for another hoops gold

Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO — The trip wasn’t always easy, though they arrived at their expected destination.

The players on the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team never doubted they would be standing on the gold-medal platform, even after some close calls in Rio and criticisms they lacked the usual big names and bigger wins.

“I know there was kind of a lot of buzz around us not playing well a couple of games, two, three games in the early round,” Carmelo Anthony said, “but the way that we locked in and the way that we focused in to be able to have this gold medal around our necks was special.”

Saving their best for last in a tournament that had been tough, the Americans convincingly won their third straight gold medal, beating Serbia 96-66 on Sunday.

“We came here and despite what people are saying about this group, being less talented and not blowing teams out, we did a good job of bottling all that up and unleashed it on Serbia,” forward Paul George said.

Kevin Durant scored 30 points in the final game with the national team for Mike Krzyzewski, who took the Americans back to the top and leaves with them there after becoming the first coach to win three Olympic gold medals.

“To go home as gold medalists and leave Coach K off with another gold was one of our main goals as well,” Durant said.

Anthony also picked up his third gold to go with a bronze, becoming the most decorated male in Olympic basketball history.

The U.S. beat Serbia by just 94-91 in pool play, holding on when Bogdan Bogdanovic missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. This rematch looked nothing like that meeting, but it did resemble the final of the 2014 Basketball World Cup, which the Americans won 129-92.