Ricky Rubio erupts, but Team USA survives Spain to reach Tokyo Olympic semifinals

Kevin Durant and Ricky Rubio after Spain v United States (Team USA) Men's Basketball - Olympics: Day 11
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A Cleveland Cavaliers player used the Tokyo Olympics to find a rhythm after a down season.

But it wasn’t the one who talked about doing it.

And he won’t win a medal.

Ricky Rubio led Spain to an 11-point second-quarter lead and finished with 38 points, but Kevin Durant scored 29 points to rally Team USA to a 95-81 win in the men’s basketball quarterfinals Tuesday.

The United States will face the Australia-Argentina winner at 12:15 a.m. Eastern on Thursday. Australia has beaten the U.S. in exhibitions in 2019 and this year.

Slovenia will play the France-Italy winner in the other semifinal.

This is how it should often be for Team USA – a comparison between its potential 12th man and the opponent’s best player. A massive talent advantage allows the Americans to overcome their limited chemistry/familiarity with international rules and style.

After falling behind Tuesday, the United States tightened its defense, kept the ball moving and started making open shots. Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (12 points, five assists and a steal) filled his role, and Suns guard Devin Booker (nine rebounds, five assists and three steals) excelled as a hustler player.

And of course the U.S. got a healthy dose of Durant to really exploit its talent advantage.