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Needing a win to advance, Team USA handles Czech Republic

On the final day of Group A pool play for the men’s side, Team USA needed a win to advance to the quarterfinals set to begin next week.


“Our confidence never wavered,” forward Jayson Tatum said. “We understood that it wasn’t going to be easy. We didn’t have our full team until four or five days ago.”


Team USA routed the Czech Republic, 119-84, Saturday, July 31 from the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan.


The team now joins Australia, France and Italy in the quarterfinal round.


The quarterfinals are set to begin Monday, Aug. 2.


The biggest storyline of the night was forward Kevin Durant passing three-time gold medalist Carmelo Anthony for the all-time lead in points for Team USA.


“It’s amazing to see and amazing to watch,” Tatum said. “That’s a huge accomplishment if you just think about all the great players, all the Hall-of-Fame players that put this uniform on. To be at the top and have that scoring title -- I’m young enough to remember the 2016 team and 2012 team that he was on and now to be able to play in the Olympics on the same team as him and other guys like [forward Draymond Green], whose done this before is really cool, honestly.”


Durant scored 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field to go along with eight rebounds and six assists and a block.


The historic shot came in the second quarter with a little over six minutes left in the half.


It didn’t stop there as a 10-0 run for the US would swing things back in their direction led by back-to-back threes from Durant.


The latter three also passed Anthony as the all-time leader in field goals made for Team USA.


Durant hit another big three as the third quarter came to a close to put the US up 82-60.


However, the team’s biggest scoring quarter awaited as Team USA posted a game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter.


The Czech Republic was outscored 72-41 in the second half after leading by as many as 10 points in the first quarter on two separate occasions.


Tatum led all scorers with 27 points off-the-bench on 10-of-16 shooting including five made three-pointers.


In the three pool play games, Tatum averaged 16.7 points per game on 18-of-36 shooting from the floor.


“There’s a benefit to playing with other great players,” he said. “It makes the game easier because everybody on the floor has a really high IQ that can play the game at an extremely high level.” As a team, the US shot 20-of-42 from beyond the arc while holding the Czech Republic to 8-of-18.


Over the last two games, Team USA has shot 39-of-81 or from three after being held to 10-of-32 (31%) in the opener against France.


Three other players scored in double-figures including guards Zach LaVine with 13 points and Jrue Holiday with 11 points.


Center JaVale McGee also chipped in with 10 points off-the-bench along with LaVine.


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