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NBA stars set to bring curtain down in Rio

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USA guard Kevin Durant (L) scores past Spain guard Sergio Llull during a men’s Olympic Games basketball semi-final at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 19, 2016 © AFP/File / Andrej Isakovic

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Aug 21 – The United States’ NBA superstars will bring the curtain down on the 2016 Rio Olympics Sunday as the last 12 gold medals are decided.

Only Serbia stand in the way of the US defending champions and a sixth Olympic gold in seven tries.

The Americans take a 24-game Olympic win streak, and an overall decade-long run of 75 consecutive triumphs, into the final seeking a third gold medal in a row.

US coach Mike Krzyzewski guides the team for the final time before being replaced by NBA San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

“Serbia is talented. They are one of the top teams in the world,” Krzyzewski said. “They have played together a long time.”

But the gold medal match may not be a foregone conclusion.

In group play last week, the Americans only beat Serbia 94-91, the narrowest margin of their US Olympic win streak.

Serbia coach Sasha Djordevic, who lost to the USA’s second NBA Olympic squad in the 1996 final as a member of Yugoslavia, wants his team proud but not satisfied.

“Our confidence is growing,” he said. “It’s time to rewrite the legacy of Serbia basketball … I have to not let them be satisfied right now.”

Before the closing ceremony gets underway at 2300 GMT, the remainder of the medal shake-up will be decided.

In the men’s marathon, world champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie hopes to win a first gold medal for Eritrea.

He can also become just the second medallist from Eritrea — their only other medal was a bronze for Zersenay Tadese in the men’s 10,000m at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Defending champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda can join Abebe Bikila and Waldemar Cierpinski as a two-time champion in the event.

Four golds will be decided in boxing — women’s middleweight and men’s flyweight, light-welterweight and superheavyweight.

In a battle of the big units, 30-year-old Briton Joe Joyce tackles Tony Yoka of France.

Joyce has a university degree in fine arts and has said he would not be able to choose between Muhammad Ali or Picasso as his top idol.

Also wrapping up is the freestyle wrestling competition with titles in the 65kg and 97kg divisions.

The Americans downed Spain 82-76 in their semi-final for their 24th consecutive Olympic victory © AFP/File / Andrej Isakovic

In men’s handball, France seek a third successive gold against Denmark in the final.

Hosts Brazil take on Italy for men’s volleyball gold having reached the final for the fourth successive Games.

They were champions in 2004 and silver medallists in 2008 and 2012.

Golds are also to be handed out in men’s mountain biking and the women’s all-around team event in rhythmic gymnastics.

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