Kevin Durant Warms Up for Tokyo Olympics Tip-Off
USA Basketball opens tournament against France on Sunday morning
After an eventful training camp, Kevin Durant is in Tokyo with USA Basketball getting ready for Team USA to tip off its quest for another Olympic gold medal against France on Sunday morning at 8 a.m.
France features five NBA players, with Durant’s Brooklyn teammate Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot joined by Utah’s Rudy Gobert, Boston’s Evan Fournier, New York’s Frank Ntilikina, and the LA Clippers’ Nicolas Batum.
“France is a well-oiled machine,” said Durant. “They’ve been playing together since they were kids, so they know each other and lot of NBA players on that team. We’re focusing on us and seeing what our identity is through training camp in Vegas and our first practice here in Japan. It’s all about us but we understand how talented these teams are and how good their chemistry is so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Team USA’s pool play schedule will also include Iran at 12:40 a.m. on Wednesday, July 28 and the Czech Republic at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 31. The quarterfinals are scheduled for Aug. 3, the semifinals for Aug. 5, and the gold medal game for Aug. 6.
A gold medal in Tokyo would be the third for Durant, already one of the most accomplished international players in USA Basketball history. Twice the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year, Durant is 39-0 in FIBA competition and led Team USA in scoring at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
Durant averaged 16.3 points through four exhibition games played in Las Vegas last week. After surprisingly dropping the first two games against Nigeria and Australia, Team USA bounced back with a 108-80 win over Argentina and an 83-76 win over Spain.
Along the way, they lost Bradley Beal and Kevin Love from the roster, replaced by Keldon Johnson — who had been training with the group as part of the Select Team — and JaVale McGee.
They headed to Tokyo with eight players, waiting for Zach LaVine to rejoin them after being delayed by health and safety protocols and for Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Devin Booker to finish the NBA Finals. The full roster, which also includes Golden State’s Draymond Green, Golden State’s Bam Adebayo, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, and Detroit’s Jerami Grant, is expected to be together by Saturday.
“I feel like we’re understanding what coach wants from us on both ends of the floor,” said Durant. “I feel like guys are getting more comfortable with each other and their roles on the team and that’s only gonna go well for us as we start to play real games so it was good to kind of get a punch in the mouth early on to remind us that it’s not gonna be a cakewalk and so many people are used to Team USA coming in and blowing everybody out so it was good for us to see that and hopefully those are the last losses.”
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