The indomitable United States stormed to a third straight basketball gold, swatting aside Serbia in the last event of the Rio Olympics.
The favourites produced a display as dominant as it was entertaining as they triumphed 96-66 at Carioca Arena 1 – the sixth time they have topped the podium in the seven Games since the ‘Dream Team’ era began.
The ever-impressive Kevin Durant led the way with 30 points as Serbia’s solid start quickly petered out, with DeMarcus Cousins scoring 13 points and Klay Thompson netting 12.
It was a fitting send-off for outgoing coach Mike Krzyzewski and a remarkable show of strength by a team without a clutch of stars in Brazil, among them LeBron James and Stephen Curry.
It was always going to be a big ask for Serbia to end the USA’s 10-year unbeaten run at the Games – which stretches back to Athens 2004, when they were stunned in the semi-finals by Argentina – although their attitude and aptitude had pushed them close in the Rio 2016 preliminary round.
When the duo resumed battle on the Rio hardwood it was the Eastern Europeans that began the brighter, with their aggressive defensive pressure throwing their much-fancied opponents off kilter.
America were struggling for fluidity but as the first quarter came to a close Durant landed their first three-pointer, giving them a 19-15 lead that they quickly built on.
Serbia were guilty of missing too many shots and the US capitalised, with Durant racking up 24 points as they went in at the halfway point with a 52-29 lead.
There was no let-up in the third quarter as they defended sternly and attacked with intent, opening up a 36-point lead at the end of the third.
It was by now an exhibition, underlined by DeMar DeRozan’s breath-taking alley-oop, as the United States’ men won a 15th basketball gold.