STA, 3 August - Slovenia have advanced to the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics basketball tournament in a historic feat as it won 94:70 against Germany on Tuesday. This is the first time the Slovenian men's basketball team is competing at the Games and now they are one win away from a medal.
Slovenia started the first quarter aggressively and soon built up a lead, however in the second quarter Germany caught up with the current European Champions as Slovenia's defence was not as stubborn as at the start of the match. Moreover, Germany, whose main weapon in offence is the three-pointer, started scoring open shots.
The second half saw Slovenia picking up pace again and establishing a double-digit lead, which they maintained until the end. Slovenia thus remain unbeaten in Tokyo.
Feelings were running high as the win-it-or-lose-it game was interrupted by quite a few fouls, including technical ones, with players going at each other not just with their basketball skills but also some trash talk on occasion.
Slovenia outperformed Germany in all elements, particularly in rebounding (40:28). Having grabbed 11 rebounds, Slovenia's Mike Tobey remains the best rebounder of the tournament. He also registered a 13-point performance.
NBA star Luka Dončić was less dominant on court as in Slovenia's first two matches of the group phase, however he still had a double double (20 points, 11 assists), boasting his signature fadeaways. He finished two rebounds shy of a triple double.
Zoran Dragić was meanwhile the best shooter of the Slovenian team with 27 points. He displayed 100% accuracy on two-pointers.
"We've created a beautiful morning for Slovenians," said Jaka Blažič in his first comment after the game. Dragić lauded the team's effort, highlighting hard work had paid off, and Dončić said this was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him and his teammates to bag an Olympic medal.
"I'm at a loss for words. We had some issues, but we gave our best as displayed. And now we're among the top four in the world, which is unbelievable," Dončić said.
The Olympic basketball tournament will have been down to just four teams at the end of this day with Slovenia playing either France or Italy in the semi-finals on Thursday.