France ended the perfect run for Slovenia with Luka Doncic in the lineup as the reigning EuroBasket champs suffered their first defeat in 18 games, 90-89.
Captain Nicolas Batum came to the rescue for France with a behind-the-back backboard block at the buzzer to end Slovenia’s hopes of making a golden run at their first Olympic Games appearance at the Saitama Super Arena.
France moves on to the Final, where they will play against the USA. They have already beaten them on the opening day of the basketball program in Tokyo 2020, adding a bit more flavor to the already intriguing matchup.
This semi-final was a classic, a game for the ages, and with the teams trading blows all game long, it came down to the closing minutes. France held a two-point lead that was tested several times, the closest when Jaka Blazic’s corner three-pointer rimmed out with just over a minute to play.
Slovenia did not take their set point, so Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot aced the French one to make it 90-85 with 56.1 to play. But it was only set point, not match point – Klemen Prepelic found four quick points to make it a one-point game, and once Nando De Colo missed his long two, it was Slovenia with the match point.
Luka Doncic was double-teamed, so he sent the ball to Klemen Prepelic. The guy who doubled Doncic was Batum, yet he still managed to recover in time for the game-winning block on Prepelic as time expired.
Nando De Colo had 25 points and Evan Fournier 23, but Rudy Gobert and Nicolas Batum brought the defense, combining for 8 blocks on the night!
France makes the title game after 21 years, and they are up against the team they already defeated. Slovenia faces Australia for the bronze medal.