Olympics

Tokyo Olympics: Previewing USA-France gold medal game; Australia-Slovenia bronze medal game

Tokyo Olympics Medal games-Devin Booker, Evan Fournier, Luka Doncic, Patty Mills.jpeg
Devin Booker, Evan Fournier, Luka Doncic, Patty Mills [Getty Images]

The gold and bronze medal games are set!

The United States persevered in the second half to make a comeback against Australia, while France needed a game-saving block from Nicolas Batum on the final possession to hold off Slovenia.

Team USA is in pursuit of their fourth-consecutive gold medal, but France is desperately looking to avoid finishing second at the Olympics for the third time in country's history, aiming for their first-ever first place finish.

In the bronze medal game, both Australia and Slovenia are looking to make history, each trying to claim their country's first-ever Men's Basketball Olympic medal.

Below, we have you covered with a preview for each contest.

Gold medal game: United States vs. France

When: Friday, Aug. 6 at 10:30 p.m. ET

Team USA and France meet again, but this time around the French hold the upper hand, carrying a two-game win streak against the United States.

Back at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, France defeated the United States to eliminate them from the Knockout Stage. Two years later, the two countries drew the same group at the Tokyo Olympics and faced off in the first game of the Group Stage portion of the tournament.

France defeated Team USA again, snapping a historic 25-game win streak for the United States at the Olympics. USA had what appeared to be a firm grip on a winning result before France closed the game on a 16-2 run, capped off by a hustle-save and assist from Guerschon Yabusele on a game-sealing 3-pointer from Evan Fournier.

France went on to sweep the Group Stage, still holding an undefeated record going into the gold medal match. It's only right that the tournament's best defensive team, anchored by three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, advanced to the final round on a game-winning play on that side of the ball.

Nicolas Batum pinned Slovenia's game-winning shot attempt off the backboard on the final possession of the semifinals, and now the French have a chance at their first gold medal. They'll need that stout defence to hold strong for one more game, because the United States are riding an offensive high following a big second-half against Australia.

Trailing by as much as 15 points in the first half, Team USA completely flipped the game on its head with a 48-14 run that began at the end of the second quarter and carried through the third quarter. After starting the game 0-for-10 from 3, the United States started to pour in the 3-ball, going 9-for-18 from that point forward. Behind a dominant 23-point performance from Kevin Durant, physical on-ball defence from Jrue Holiday and a massive third-quarter scoring outburst that led to a 20-point game for Devin Booker, the United States have an opportunity to land their fourth-consecutive gold.

Get your popcorn ready for this one.

Bronze medal game: Australia vs. Slovenia

When: Saturday, Aug. 7 at 7:00 a.m. ET

Both of these countries fell in the semifinals in two different types of heartbreaking fashion.

For Australia, they got out to a roaring lead over the United States, taking full control of the game through the first quarter-and-a-half. Leading by as much as 15 points behind lockdown defence and strong play from Dante Exum and Jock Landale, as well as sharp 3-point shooting from Chris Goulding and Joe Ingles, the Boomers had everything going despite a quiet start from star guard Patty Mills.

Toward the end of the first half, the game plan began to unravel due to a couple of careless turnovers and some slow rotations defensively. That was all the momentum USA needed, running away with the game in the second half. But even despite the loss, Australia still has an opportunity to achieve their first-ever Men's Basketball medal at the Olympics, lining up against another medal-hungry country.

Slovenia was rolling in this tournament on the back of superstar Luka Doncic. The 22-year-old phenom was fantastic again in the semifinals, going for a triple-double of 16 points, 18 assists (!) and 10 rebounds. His 18 assists marked the second-most in Olympics history, only trailing Mexico's Manuel Saenz who had 20 assists in a game at the 1976 Olympics. Big man Mike Tobey was also a monster in that game, going for 23 points and eight rebounds.

Slovenia was down for the majority of the game but came charging back late in the fourth quarter. They had the ball on the last possession, trailing by one with a chance to win the game, when guard Klemen Prepelic drove the lane for the game-winning layup. Prepelic was the team's second-highest scorer for the game (17 points) but couldn't finish with the game on the line, getting his layup pinned off the backboard by Batum.

As a result, Slovenia will have to settle for a chance at bronze as their first-ever Men's Basketball medal at the Olympics.

With history on the line for both countries, this should be a thriller.

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