Batum block lifts France into final vs. USA despite Doncic triple-double
SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — Game on the line, chance for gold on the line, and Slovenia’s Klemen Prepelic thought he had a layup that would have given Slovenia the win.
France’s Nicolas Batum thought differently.
Batum reached over Prepelic to block the layup try with 2.4 seconds left, the last play in what became France’s 90-89 win over Slovenia in the men’s basketball semifinals at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday night — overcoming a historic night from Luka Doncic.
Doncic had the third triple-double in Olympic men’s history: 16 points, 10 rebounds and 18 assists. But it wasn’t quite enough, and Slovenia fell to 17-1 all-time when he’s in the national team colors.
He may be good as gold one day, but not yet. France will play the United States on Saturday (11:30 a.m. local time in Japan, 10:30 p.m. Friday EST) to decide the gold medal at the Tokyo Games. France has been this far at an Olympics only once — losing to the Americans in the title game at the 2000 Sydney Games.
They’ve won the last two meetings with the U.S., first in the quarterfinals at the Basketball World Cup in 2019, then to open group play in Tokyo.
Nando de Colo had 25 points for France, Evan Fournier scored 23 and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot added 15 for the winners — now the last unbeaten team left in the men’s tournament at 5-0. Rudy Gobert had nine points, 16 rebounds and four blocks for France, and Batum blocked four shots as well, none bigger than the one at the end.
Mike Tobey scored 23 for Slovenia, which got 17 from Prepelic.
France trailed by eight in the first half, then went up by 10 late in the third -- before needing to survive a wild fourth quarter. Slovenia tied it twice in the final period, both times on baskets inside by Tobey, but never took the lead.
Luwawu-Cabarrot took a kickout pass from Gobert with 56.1 seconds left and made a wide-open 3-pointer to put France up 90-85. A free throw got Slovenia within four, then Fournier fouled out on an offensive foul while dribbling upcourt on the next France possession.
Slovenia had life.
Prepelic took a pass from Doncic on the ensuing possession and hit a 3-pointer to get Slovenia within one. And then it came down to the last shot, which Batum knocked away as Slovenia argued for a foul to no avail.
Doncic had flirted with triple-doubles twice already at these Olympics, finally getting this one on a rebound that set up the final Slovenia possession. The other triple-doubles in Olympic men’s play: Alexander Belov had one for the Soviet Union in 1976, and LeBron James had one for the U.S. in 2012.
More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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