05 Aug 2021, 16:02 PM

STA, 5 August 2021 - The Slovenian men's basketball team lost 89:90 to France in the semi-finals of their debut Olympic basketball tournament on Thursday to play for the bronze medal against Australia on Saturday at 1pm CET.

This is Slovenia's first loss at the tournament after the team sailed through the group phase and outperformed Germany in the semi-finals.

In scoring, Slovenia were led by Mike Tobey with 23 points and Klemen Prepelič with 17 points, while NBA superstar Luka Dončić scored a triple-double, collecting 16 points, 10 rebounds and 18 assists.

It was actually the first loss for Slovenia in official matches after Dončić joined the team, as they rang up 17 wins in a row, including at the 2017 EuroBasket, only to lose today to France, who will play the United States in the finals.

The Slovenian became only a third player ever to record a triple-double in an Olympic tournament to join Russian Alexander Belov (1976) and American LeBron James (2012).

Slovenia had the chance to win the match in the last seconds, with Prepelič attempting a lay-up, which was blocked by France's Nicolas Batum. One possession earlier, Prepelič put Slovenia in the position for a win with a three pointer.

Nevertheless, Slovenia are less than 48 hour away from a chance to win the bronze medal, which would be the first medal for the country in team sports at the Summer Olympics ever.

Slovenia's head coach Aleksander Sekulić said it was a "good game with an excellent opponent" and praised his players for going all out on the court.

Dončić said he was proud of the team. "We lost, although we had a nice opportunity at the end to win. Everybody gave their best. We worked hard for two months to show this level of play here and we surprised a lot of people."

He added that Slovenia had not given up at all, as there was another goal of winning a medal, on which the entire team would focus.

France's head coach Vincent Collet said that the team had been well prepared for Dončić, as his game had been analysed. "We kept throwing our best players at him, tried to wear him down, but he nevertheless collected 18 assists."

France's Nando de Colo, who was the top scorer of the match with 25 points, said it was "one of the toughest matches I've ever played. We had much respect of Slovenia and the team play and the coach's strategy was decisive."

03 Aug 2021, 07:52 AM

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.

01 Aug 2021, 14:40 PM

STA, 1 August 2021 - After securing a place in the quarter-finals of the basketball tournament at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Slovenia continued their winning strike on Sunday by beating Spain 95:87 in the third game of the tournament, in which Slovenia remains undefeated. Slovenia will face Germany in the quarter-finals.

Slovenia's Vlatko Čančar scored 22 points, Mike Tobey had 16 scores and Klemen Prepelič 15. Slovenian superstar Luka Dončić was not dominant, having scored 12 points, 14 jumps and nine passes.

The two teams, the reigning 2017 European champions and 2019 World Champions, were neck and neck.

In the first quarter, Slovenia's plans were marred by Dončić's third personal foul, which cost him a few minutes on the bench, so he only scored eight points in the first half.

Spain scored eight 3-pointers, and the result after the first half was 41:44. After the break, Spain was in the lead 55:43 after less than three minutes of the game, but then Slovenia started to play more aggressively in the defence and got organised in the attack to make up for the loss in the third-quarter (68:68).

Čančar scored 20 points in the first 30 minutes, and Dončič 12 points and 11 passes.

But the winner was decided in the final minutes of the game. Slovenia caught up with Spain (82:76) in the 37th minute (83:82).

Tobey's scoring 100 seconds before the end of the game turned things around for Slovenia (88:85), and Prepelič's two free throws 13 seconds before the end again brought three points of advantage to the Slovenian team. Ricky Rubio's missing a 3-pointer for Spain, finally tipped the scale in Slovenia's favour.

Slovenia head coach Aleksander Sekulić said he truly enjoyed the game. "I'm proud of the performance of our team against world champions, a great coach and basketball players whom we forced to play a zone defence for 40 minutes. I think they are the first world champions who played zone for 40 minutes, and against Slovenia. We can be proud of that," he said.

"We've expected a zone, two or three players on me, but not the entire 40 minutes. I was looking for free players with a free shot and we were successful. Unfortunately, we missed a lot but we won in the end. That's all that counts here. We must stay focussed, but I know we're ready for any opponent," said Dončić.

The Slovenian team continues to the quarter-finals as the best team in its group C. After winning against Argentina, Japan and Spain it remains the only undefeated team along with France and Australia.

Slovenia's opponent in the quarter-finals on Tuesday will be Germany, which was determined in today's draw today between Italy and Germany, which ranked second and third in group A, respectively.

If they win that match, Slovenia will face Italy or France in the semi-finals.

29 Jul 2021, 09:50 AM

STA, 29 July 2021 - Slovenia made it to the quarter-finals of the basketball tournament at the Tokyo Olympic Games after defeating the hosts Japan 116:81 for what is their second win in as many matches. 

Led by the NBA All-Star Luka Dončić, Slovenia were in the lead throughout the game. With plenty of motivated players in action, they were effective on the offensive and solid in defence.

While not as far dominant as in the first game against Argentina, Dončić scored 25 points, just one more than Zoran Dragić, with Vlatko Čančar adding another 16, Klemen Prepelič 12, and Jaka Blažič 10.

In fact all 12 Slovenia players scored points. The team won won 54:33 on rebounds and passed the 110 score mark for the 12th time in history.

Dončić left the court four minutes before the end of the game, having scored a point for each minute he spent in the court, plus seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocs.

Speaking for TV Slovenija, Dončić was pleased with the game, but said the team still had "quite some reserves in defence, which will be important in the following games.

"We all know Spain, they've had the same team for 10, 15 years, they are a very experienced team and it will be a very hard game," the superstar said ahead of Sunday's last game against Spain.

"I think we showed our power together as a team, having 27 assists and 54 rebounds ... I'm very proud of them," Slovenia head coach Aleksander Sekulić said.

The game will determine Slovenia's final ranking in their group, to be followed by the draw of the quarter-finals.

Winners from all three groups and the best second-placed team are seeded and will be placed in one pot, while the other four, that is the other two second-placed and the two best third-placed teams, will be placed in the second pot.

The quarter-finals will be played on 3 August, the semis on 5 August and the finals on 7 August.

28 Jul 2021, 12:41 PM

STA, 28 July 2021 - Rider Primož Roglič has outclassed the competition by more than a minute in the men's Olympic time trial on Wednesday to win the second gold for Slovenia in Tokyo and the second medal for Slovenian cycling at the ongoing Games.

Bouncing back from difficulties in the Olympic road race, which saw his national team mate Tadej Pogačar win bronze, Roglič entered confidently into the 44.2 kilometre time trial, stepping up the pace throughout the course, to crush the field in the second of two laps for a winning time of 55 minutes 4.19 seconds.

This was as much as a 1min 1.39sec clear off Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands, his team mate in the UCI World Team Jumbo-Visma, in second. Australia's Rohan Dennis came in third with a lag of 1min 3.90sec to claim bronze.

"Amazing ... It goes to show how fortunes can turn fast if you believe in yourself and work hard for new challenges ahead. Absolutely amazing," Roglič told RTV Slovenija in his first comment.

Roglič's is the fourth medal for Slovenia at the Tokyo Games and the second gold after canoeist Benjamin Savšek secured the Olympic title in the men's C-1 slalom on Monday.

"I wouldn't say I'm a specialist for time trial or anything, but I can do a good time trial. I'm exceptionally proud and happy," the 31-year old added.

At the first time check, Roglič was still in second, half a second behind Italian Filippo Ganna, the reigning world champion, and three seconds ahead of Dumoulin with the rest of the pack close behind.

However, 22.1 kilometres into his trial, he has build an 8sec lead ahead of Dumoulin, with Ganna falling as much behind.

Stepping up his rhythm further, he extended his lead ahead of the Dutch rider further to 31 seconds on the first, longest climb, pacing up through to the finish line.

In fact, Roglič was so much focused on his ride that he kept on peddling beyond the finish line at the Fuji International Speedway until he was waved to a halt a hundred metres on.

Commenting on that for the Slovenian public broadcaster after the medal ceremony, Roglič said there was just no one there to tell him it was over and with all benchmarks looking the same he thought: "What the heck, I'll keep going."

Roglič's is the 27th medal for Slovenia at Summer Olympic Games since independence but the first gold in cycling in any discipline after Pogačar won the first ever Olympic medal for the country in cycling.

"We were aware we had a team that can make anything possible ... Primož was phenomenal," Andrej Hauptman, the head coach of Slovenia's Olympic cycling team, commented.

"You could already see before the road trainings that Primož is back in shape. It wasn't his day in the road race, but today he's back at the top where he deserves to be," Hauptman told the Slovenian public broadcaster in a reference to injuries from two bad falls that forced Roglič to withdraw from the Tour de France this year after he came in second last year, bested by Pogačar.

Roglič says he is yet to take in the feat he has achieved today, but he will not have much time to spare as he is due to appear in La Vuelta on 14 August to defend the title of the overall winner for a second time after he first won the tour of Spain in 2019.

27 Jul 2021, 13:23 PM

STA, 27 July 2021 - Slovenian judoka Tina Trstenjak has won the silver medal in the 63kg category at the Tokyo Olympics. The second-best-ranked in the category had to concede to the top-ranked Clarisse Agbegnenou of France on Tuesday in what was a replay of the gold medal match from the previous Olympics where Trstenjak won. 

Agbegnenou defeated Trstenjak with a waza-ari after 37 seconds of extra time following a tense and aggressive face-off during regulation time which saw penalties awarded to both competitors.

The French also outperformed Trstenjak in the previous three matches between them prior to today's match. The last time the 30-year-old Trstenjak was better than her two years younger French peer remains the Paris Grand Slam four years ago.

On her way to the final, which was turned rockier due to back pain, the Slovenian beat Italy's Marie Centracchio, a surprise semi-finalist, and Venezuela's Anriquelis Barrios in the quarter-final.

"It didn't go according to plan, but I'm super happy I've gotten to the final at two consecutive Olympics," Trstenjak told RTV Slovenija after today's match, highlighting she was nevertheless satisfied with the silver medal.

"Clarisse and I are good friends outside judo even though we're rivals. When we face off in the final, that's quite a show. [...] That was the best possible final," she said, adding she could not have wished for a better opponent.

After scoring a waza-ari, the second highest score in judo, Agbegnenou lifted Trstenjak off her feet during a hug out of joy and respect for the Slovenian.

Trstenjak also noted she had been performing in pain the entire morning. The extent of the injury will become clear after the pills wear off, she added.

Apart from her two Olympic medals, Trstenjak also has one gold World Championships medal and three gold European Championships medals.

Today's medal is the third medal for Slovenia in the 2020 Summer Olympics after cyclist Tadej Pogačar got bronze in the road race on Saturday and canoeist Benjamin Savšek won gold in the C-1 slalom yesterday.

26 Jul 2021, 10:54 AM

STA, 26 July 2021 - Slovenian canoeist Benjamin Savšek convincingly won the men's C-1 slalom on Monday to earn the first gold medal for Slovenia at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the second overall medal for the country. 

With no penalty seconds, the 34-year-old finished 3.71 seconds ahead of the second-placed Lukaš Rohan of the Czech Republic and 5.45 seconds ahead of the bronze medallist, Sideris Tasiadis of Germany.

This is already a second medal at the Tokyo Olympics for Slovenia after the bronze medal by cyclist Tadej Pogačar in the men's road race on Saturday, and the 25th overall medal for the country at the Summer Olympics.

Savšek, who has won seven world championship medals and ten European championship medals, earned his first Olympic medal to crown the successful career, after finishing sixth in Rio in 2016 and eighth in London in 2012.

"My first thought was that I managed an excellent run in the finals. A sleepless night is behind me. I finally got the monkey off my back, I had been working hard for this for a long time," he told the national television after the win.

"The course was demanding, I already had a lot of work in the semi-finals, so I focused in the final on making a run without touches, and I managed this. I really fought at the last three gates and when I saw the time the emotions took over."

This is the sixth gold medal for Slovenia at the Summer Olympics and the first gold in kayak/canoe, after Andraž Vehovar and Peter Kauter won silvers in kayak in Atlanta 1996 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016, respectively.

"This means a lot to me. This is the only medal that I needed to complete my collection. What is missing is the first place overall in the World Cup, but this outweighs everything," Savšek said.

26 Jul 2021, 09:22 AM

STA, 26 July 2021 - Slovenian superstar Luka Dončić scored 48 points as the Slovenian basketball team cruised past Argentina to open their campaign at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday with a convincing 118:100 win.

The first Olympics win for Slovenia came against the runners-up from the last World Cup, with the winner being already decided in the first half, in which Dončić scored 31 points for Slovenia to take a 20-point lead.

The lead ballooned to 30 by the end of the third quarter and the rest was only a formality, and the only question was with how many points the Dallas Mavericks star will end the match. He finished it with a whopping 48 points.

Dončić was resting in the last four minutes and Klemen Prepelič took over, scoring a couple of threes to finish with 22 points. The naturalised American Mike Tobey notably had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Slovenia's head coach Aleksander Sekulić said that the match had been understandably emotional as it was the first ever for Slovenia at the Olympics.

"We played our game, and we were especially efficient on offence ... and we had the exceptional Luka Dončić. We lost focus for a few minutes at the end, but it was nevertheless a very good game and we can be satisfied."

Dončić added that Argentina was a very good team and that it was difficult for him as the opponent played very good defence. "The first Olympic game is behind us, it is a large win and the feelings are very special."

Dončić was also praised by Argentina head coach Sergio Hernandez. "We tried to stop him from getting the ball and cut him off the team, because we knew he would get his points. He was able to respond to every defence we threw at him."

Slovenia is on pace to qualify for the elimination round but will probably need at least one more win out of Thursday's encounter with the hosts Japan and Sunday's match-up with Spain in Group B.

25 Jul 2021, 06:47 AM

STA, 24 July 2021 - Reigning Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar won the bronze medal in the men's cycling road race at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday in what is the first Olympic medal in cycling for Slovenia. Ecuador's Richard Carapaz won the race.

The photo finish showed that the 22-year-old Pogačar was within a hair's breadth of the silver Olympic medal as he crossed the finish line only a few centimetres behind the second-placed Wout van Aert from Belgium.

"This is something completely unbelievable, I'm speechless," he told the public broadcaster TV Slovenija after bagging the bronze Olympic medal, adding that "a medal is a medal".

He described the 234 km road race with the elevation gain of 4,865 metres as one of the toughest ones in his career so far, saying there had been a lot of factors that made it difficult such as heat and high humidity.

"I'd been suffering since the last climb, but I gave it my best shot," he added.

Primož Roglič, another pre-race favourite and Pogačar's compatriot, placed 28th. The 31-year-old withdrew from this year's Tour de France due to several crashes and ensuing injuries, but told the public broadcaster ahead of today's race that he was feeling better and was ready for the Summer Olympics.

He will have another chance to bag an Olympic medal on Wednesday when he will compete in the men's time trial.

The other two Slovenian riders competing in the race, Jan Polanc and Jan Tratnik, placed below 40th with Tratnik having done the lion's share in keeping the Slovenian team ahead as he set a hard tempo train for some 100 kilometres.

The race featured five climbs, including an ascent partway up to Mount Fuji (14.3 km at 6%) and the culmination of the event, the steep Mikuni Pass climb (6.5 km at 10.6%), where the first attacks to cross the finish line first started today.

Pogačar's bronze medal is the first medal for Slovenia at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the first Slovenian Olympic medal in cycling.

When it comes to the Summer Olympics, the country fared best at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when it won a total of five medals. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics it got four medals.

A total of 54 Slovenian athletes are in the running for Olympic medals at the Tokyo Olympics, which will end on 8 August.

23 Jul 2021, 17:37 PM

STA, 23 July 2021 - Slovenia will be fielding a total of 54 athletes at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, taking place from 23 July to 8 August, including numerous candidates for medals. This is actually the smallest Slovenian team at the Summer Olympics since 1996, even though the men's national basketball team makes its appearance for the first time.

In 1996 in Atlanta, US, Slovenia fielded 37 athletes, after appearing for the first time as an independent nation in Barcelona in 192 with 35 participants. The largest team was fielded in Athens in 2004 (79).

This year the Summer Olympics will feature the Slovenian men's basketball team for the first time, headlined by the young NBA superstar Luka Dončić.

Dončić is only one big name from Slovenia coming to Tokyo, as the team features three medal winners from Rio and numerous other favourites in many sports.

Tina Trstenjak will be defending her gold medal in the women's 63kg category in judo, and at least three others are expected to compete for medals, including Ana Velenšek, the bronze medallist in the women's 78kg category from Rio.

In kayak/canoe, all eyes will be on Peter Kauzer, who won a silver medal in Brazil four years ago, and the other two whitewater stars - Benjamin Savšek and Eva Terčelj, the latter being the reigning world champion in the women's K1.

According to pundits, one of the largest medal favourites from Slovenia is sport climber Janja Garnbret, who has been almost unbeatable in international competitions lately in the lead and bouldering disciplines.

Garnbret has also made great progress in speed climbing, and is undoubtedly the main favourite for the win in this new Olympic discipline, while her team mate Mia Krampl will be looking for an opportunity from out of the spotlight.

A chapter of its own is cycling, where Slovenia will be represented by four cyclists, including the recent double Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar, and his older compatriot Primož Roglič, also one of the best world cyclists at the moment.

On the other hand, golfer Pia Babnik, who scored the first Slovenian win at the Ladies European Tour in June, will represent Slovenia in golf, while in athletics the country counts the most on the young discus thrower Kristjan Čeh.

While Slovenia is fielding the men's basketball team for the first time at the Olympics, it would not be surprising if the team ends up competing for medals, as it cruised to an Olympic berth at a recent qualifying tournament in Lithuania.

Kayaker Terčelj and table tennis player Bojan Tokić will bear the Slovenian flag at the opening ceremony, with the former saying that the task was difficult, while also being a great joy and honour.

"I am honoured, but it is also a great responsibility to bear the flag and representing Slovenia and its colours there. I will give my best for this task and enjoy this special event," Terčelj added.

According to the Associated Press, Slovenia is projected to win seven medals at the Olympics, including one gold, by Janja Garnbret in sport climbing.

22 Jul 2021, 14:40 PM

STA, 22 July 2021 - Slovenian freediver Alenka Artnik has further improved the constant weight world record she set three days ago by plunging as far as 122 metres deep at the Vertical Blue competition in the Bahamas.

"The dive was absolutely magical, so controlled and relaxed," Artnik said in announcing her feat in a post on her Facebook profile.

Artnik set a new world record in her discipline three days ago, diving 120 metres deep into Dean's Blue Hole on Long Island, the Bahamas.

This was after she entered the competition with a dive of 118 metres.

She said she would write a bit more about her latest achievement later, adding: "Now I just want to enjoy the moment and rest."

She also posted photos of her newest record-breaking dive, which lasted 3:34 minutes.

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