But nothing could undo the cruelty Batum unleashed on Doncic’s Slovenia moments earlier.
Batum shaded off his man (Klemen Prepelic) toward Doncic, causing Doncic to give up the ball then recovered to make the game-winning block on a driving Prepelic in the final seconds of France’s 90-89 victory over Slovenia in the Tokyo Olympic men’s basketball semifinals Thursday.
Or the U.S. could easily lose to France team good enough to finally beat Slovenia, which was 17-0 with Doncic.
Doncic (16 points, 18 assists and 10 rebounds) was brilliant Thursday. The Mavericks guard’s triple-double is just the third in Olympic men’s basketball (Alexander Belov for the Soviet Union in 1976, LeBron James for United States in 2012.) Though his decision to pass rather than take the last shot is open to criticism, Doncic threw himself all over the court all game, playing passionately through pain against a defense keying on him.
France just had the better team.
Nando de Colo (25 points, seven rebounds and five assists) played an excellent all-around game. New Knicks wing Evan Fournier (23 points) again shined as a scorer. Jazz center Rudy Gobert (nine points, 16 rebounds, four blocks and three assists) and Clippers forward Nicolas Batum (four blocks) keyed the defense.
Doncic wasn’t completely a one-man show. Former Hornets center Mike Tobey scored 23 points, and Prepelic added 17.
In its first Olympics, the Slovenian men’s basketball team will face Australia for the bronze medal (7 a.m. Saturday). Australia is seeking its first men’s basketball Olympic medal after finishing fourth in 1988, 1996, 2000 and 2016.