Tokyo Olympics

France escapes Doncic, Slovenia to set up Olympic final with USA

Delfin Dioquino
France escapes Doncic, Slovenia to set up Olympic final with USA

DENIED. France eliminates Luka Doncic and Slovenia from gold-medal contention in the Tokyo Olympics.

Sergio Perez/Reuters

Luka Doncic sees his triple-double – only the third in Olympic history – go to waste as France slips past Slovenia in the semifinal thanks to a clutch Nicolas Batum block

France will meet Team USA again in the Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball tournament after escaping Luka Doncic and Slovenia in a nail-biting 90-89 semifinal win on Thursday, August 5.

Doncic recorded only the third triple-double in Olympic history with 16 points, 18 assists, and 10 rebounds, but France withstood his brilliant performance with a clutch defensive play to set up a finals date with USA.

It all came down to the wire as the Slovenians, who cut their deficit to a whisker off a Klemen Prepelic three-pointer with 30 ticks left, seized the final possession following a French miss.

Struggling from the field all game long, Doncic opted to pass up the last shot and looked on his way to his 19th assist as Prepelic skied for the potential game-winning layup.

But Nicolas Batum – whose team Los Angeles Clippers eliminated Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA playoffs last season – once again denied the Slovenian wonder with a chasedown block on Prepelic.

Rudy Gobert secured the rebound – his 16th of the game – as France reached the Olympic men’s basketball finals for the first time since 2000.

“Out of nowhere, Batum just gets a block and Rudy gets a rebound, which was big time,” said France veteran Evan Fournier. “What a crazy game.”

Nando de Colo led France with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, Fournier had 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists before fouling out, while Timothe Luwawu Cabarrot chimed in 15 points.

Batum put up only 3 points on 1-of-5 shooting, but made his presence felt on the defensive end with 5 rebounds and 4 blocks.

The French – the only team to beat Team USA in Tokyo – will try to repeat over the red-hot Americans in the final match on Saturday, August 7, as they shoot for their first Olympic men’s basketball gold medal.

Mike Tobey topscored for Slovenia with 23 points and 8 rebounds, while Prepelic churned out 17 points.

Doncic and Slovenia can still salvage a podium finish in their Olympic debut as they tangle with Australia in the bronze-medal match, also on August 7. – Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.