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U.S. men's basketball team advances to semifinals with win over Spain

United States' Jayson Tatum (C) splits Spain's Usman Garuba (L) and Pau Gasol (R) during a men's basketball quarterfinal game at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Tuesday, in Tokyo, Japan. USA won 95-81 to advance to the semi-final round. Photo by Mike Theiler/UP
United States' Jayson Tatum (C) splits Spain's Usman Garuba (L) and Pau Gasol (R) during a men's basketball quarterfinal game at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Tuesday, in Tokyo, Japan. USA won 95-81 to advance to the semi-final round. Photo by Mike Theiler/UP | License Photo

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Team USA has advanced to the semifinals in men's Olympic basketball with a strong win against Spain on Tuesday.

The Americans beat their biggest international rival 95-81at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo despite Spain's Ricky Rubio, 30, posting an impressive 38 points including four three-point baskets in under 30 minutes of play.

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The United States, the world's top ranked team, pulled out the win on a strong second-half effort that followed 20 minutes during which their ascension to medal contention was in doubt.

Spain's size against the smaller Americans played a factor early on with their defense throwing up some confident blocks while netting baskets against a porous U.S. defense, giving the Spaniards a 21-19 lead after the first quarter.

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Into the second frame, the United States played close against Spain before the Europeans started to slowly pull away and strengthened their lead to 10 points with about three minutes before halftime on strong, repeated possessions.

However, the Americans here started to shore up their defense and throw up some strong blocking of their own to support 32-year-old Kevin Durant's effort to pull them back into the game.

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Within the last minute of the half, Durant put up a three pointer to get the Americans within four points, a gap that Zach Lavine, 26, erased with seconds left to send the teams to halftime tied at 43.

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The Americans kept the momentum going into the final 20 minutes and they used their speed to out maneuverer Spain to gain the lead that they then increased to a game high of 16 points despite Rubio continuing to net baskets but he was essentially Madrid's only offensive threat.

By the end of the third, Spain had narrowed the gap to six with the United States leading 69-63.

However, the fourth quarter saw the Americans continue to strengthen over a tiring Spain with Jayson Tatum, 23, making it an 81-66 game with six minutes to play.

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In the end, the United States' offensive weapons were too much, with five players shooting into double digits, including Durant who finished with 29 points, to only three from Spain.

With the win, the United States will now play either Australia or Argentina in the semifinals. Their game is scheduled for later Tuesday.

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