The men's basketball tournament at the Olympics kicked off with the biggest storyline being the shocking victory of France over the gold-medal favorites, the United States. Joining the French in the win column were the Czech Republic, Italy and Australia.
Czech Republic 84, Iran 78
Patrik Auda scored 16 points, Blake Schilb added 14 and Jan Vesely had 11 as the Czech Republic (1-0) wasted most of a 22-point lead and hung on to defeat Iran 84-78 in the first game of the tournament on Sunday.
Behnam Yakhchali had a game-high 23 points for Iran (0-1), which trailed by 22 late in the third and by 21 in the fourth before putting staging a late rally. Mohammad Jamshidi scored 16 and Hamed Haddadi had 15 points and ten rebounds before fouling out late.
Iran opened the fourth quarter on a 15-2 run, cutting the lead 69-61 on a three-point play from Yakhchali with 5:39 remaining. The Czechs missed nine of their first ten shots from the field in the fourth, watching as their lead got trimmed to single digits for the first time since early in the second quarter.
Jamshidi’s 3-pointer with 1:10 left got Iran within 80-76, but Schilb scored on each of the next two Czech possessions to help close out the victory.
Italy 92, Germany 82
Simone Fontecchio scored 20 points and Nicolo Melli had seven points in a game-ending 12-0 run as Italy (1-0) beat Germany in the return of both teams to the Olympics after long absences.
Danilo Gallinari and Stefano Tonut each scored 18 for the Italians, which rallied from a 12-point deficit and held Germany (0-1) scoreless for the game’s final 4:45 in their first Olympic game since the 2004 gold medal contest. Melli scored 13 and Nico Mannion had 10.
Germany, back for the first time since 2008, were led by Maodo Lo, who scored 24. Issac Bonga added 13 and Moritz Wagner and Andreas Obst each had 12.
Wagner scored to put the Germans ahead 82-80 with 4:46 left, but those would be their final points of the game as they missed their last eight shots from the floor.
Australia 84, Nigeria 67
Patty Mills led all scorers with 25 points as Australia (1-0) beat Nigeria. Joe Ingles and Dante Exum added 11 in a game that featured 15 combined NBA players, eight for Nigeria and seven for the Aussies.
Obi Emegano scored 12 points for Nigeria (0-1). Precious Acihuwa and Jordan Nwora each had 10.
Australia opened an 11-point lead midway through the third quarter but lost momentum soon after when the game was delayed because the horn was malfunctioning. The unusual occurrence led to Nigeria cutting the deficit to five early in the fourth.
But Matisse Thybulle nailed a three-pointer and then Mills, who was a flag bearer for the Australians in the opening ceremony, helped break it open.
France 83, United States 76
Evan Fournier had 28 points, Rudy Gobert added 14 and Nando de Colo had 13 as France (1-0) ended the United States' 25-game Olympic winning streak. The victory was the second straight by the French over the US, having defeated them at the 2019 FIBA World Championships.
Jrue Holiday led the United States (0-1) with 18, Bam Adebayo added 12, Damian Lillard 11 and Kevin Durant had 10 for the Americans, who lost an Olympic for the first time since 2004 and for just the sixth time in 19 all-time appearances.
France outscored the United States 16-2 over the final 3:30 as the Americans missed all nine of their shots — five of them in a 21-second span on the same trip down the floor in the final minute, three of those from three-point range.