The 2020 Olympic Men’s Basketball Tournament continued Thursday with second first-round games for all Group A teams at Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. The day started with Slovenia pushing through to the quarterfinals with a victory over host Japan and finished with a rematch between the last finalists at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, champion Spain and runner-up Argentina.
Slovenia vs. Japan 116-81
In the early game on Thursday, Slovenia qualified for the knockout rounds in its first Olympics as an independent country by downing Japan 116-81 as stars Luka Doncic and Zoran Dragic combined for 49 points. Slovenia moved to 2-0 in the group and mathematically qualified to the quarterfinals starting next Tuesday. Doncic paced the winners with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Dragic added 24 points while Klemen Prepelic had 12 and Jaka Blazic 10.
Rui Hachimura paced Japan with 34 points. Slovenia led from start to finish but only by 20-18 late in the first quarter, before Dragic and Doncic gave their team fresh air at 29-23 after 10 minutes. Gregor Hrovat hit a floater that gave Slovenia its first double-digit lead, 38-28. Slovenia boosted its margin to 53-41 and then again to 70-52 on a dunk by Mike Tobey. Nothing changed after that, as Slovenia kept running its offense through Doncic and Dragic and cruised to a truly historical win. Slovenia is now 14-0 in international competitions dating to the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket since Doncic joined the team.
Spain vs. Argentina 81-71
Spain is going back to the Olympics quarterfinals for a fourth time in a row after downing longtime foe Argentina 81-71 in Thursday’s late game. Spain matched Slovenia’s 2-0 record atop Group C thanks to an 11-2 run late in the third quarter that kept Argentina on its heels the rest of the game. Ricky Rubio led Spain with 26 points while Nicolas Laprovittola scored 27 for Argentina. Sergio Llull of Real Madrid added 10 points for Spain. The game stayed close as Llull and his Real teammate Rudy Fernandez combined for 13 points on Spain’s way to a 40-34 halftime edge. Laprovittola stayed hot and had 22 points through the middle of the third quarter, but Llull and Pau Gasol soon boosted Spain to its biggest lead, 61-47, before a buzzer-beater by Nicolas Brussino left a 61-52 scoreboard after 30 minutes. Spain’s defense did the rest to assure the team’s place in the knockout rounds once again.