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."