Aug 23, 2016

    Anthony, Durant lead US basketball charge

    ON A team of mostly first-time young Olympians, it was the United States veterans Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant who stole the Rio show as the US won their third straight gold medal.

    Anthony on Sunday became the first man to collect three basketball golds, a week after he became the US' all-time Olympics scorer, surpassing NBA superstar LeBron James.

    But Durant, the only other player besides Anthony to return from the 2012 London Games, provided a big assist by unleashing his potent offensive punch to clinch the title.

    The newly assembled team they led were occasionally challenged in Rio, raising some doubts about the outcome.

    But not in the minds of the US players, said Durant.

    "We got together on July 17 and we set our minds on winning these gold medals. That was our main focus, Carmelo being the leader and me kind of following up," he added.

    Anthony, 32, brought the experience, and Durant, 27, the scoring as the US capped their 2016 Olympic run by mauling Serbia 96-66.

    Anthony was on the 2004 team who settled for bronze, a hard-to-swallow result that sparked a reorganisation of the US programme.

    "Not until you have some time to yourself, you get a chance to reflect back on this journey starting back in 2004 up until now.... I don't think I can explain how I feel right at this moment," he said.

    Still a top NBA scoring threat with the Knicks, he finished as the US' second-highest scorer at the Rio Games with 12.1 points per game, after Durant's 19.4.

    He will not go for a fourth gold, however.

    "As much as I'm going to miss it, it's time to pass it on to some of the guys who were here and some of the younger guys that are coming along," he said.