The 2020 Olympic Men's Basketball Tournament, featuring 38 players from the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup playing key roles for their countries, continued Sunday with a thriller for the ages as Slovenia prevailed over Spain 95-87 and gave Slovenia first place in Group C. The final day of group play also saw Argentina beat Japan to book the final ticket to the quarterfinals. The draw was also held for the quarterfinals and the final eight matchups are: France vs Italy, Slovenia vs Germany, Spain vs United States, Australia vs Argentina.
Group C: Slovenia wins group after thriller over Spain, Argentina downs Japans
Slovenia secured the top spot in Group C as they knocked off Spain in an instant classic, winning 95-87 in a re-run of the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 semifinals - won also by Slovenia en route to the continental crown. In a battle of the reigning European and world champions, Slovenia trailed by 12 points early in the second half but charged back into the game and put away Spain with a 19-5 run over the final 6:23 minutes. Slovenia improved to 3-0 in Tokyo and the team’s record is now a perfect 16-0 when Luka Doncic plays for the country, going back to the team’s undefeated run to the EuroBasket 2017 title and winning the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Vlatko Cancar paced five Slovenians in double figures with 22 points while Klemen Prepelic scored 15 points and his Valencia Basket teammate Mike Tobey collected 16 points and 14 rebounds; Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana’s Jaka Blazic had 10 points and Doncic tallied 12 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists - just missing out on becoming the third player to record a triple-double in the Olympics after Alexander Belov (1976) and LeBron James (2012). The story of the first half was Doncic’s foul trouble as he was hit with his third foul late in the first quarter. Slovenia trailed 22-20 at that point and when he returned midway through the second period Slovenia was only down 31-28. The Slovenians did pull ahead but were down 44-41 at halftime. Rudy Fernandez drained two three-pointers as the Spanish lead grew to 55-43 but Slovenia was not fazed and came back to knot the game at 68-68 and trailed just 70-68 after 30 minutes. Slovenia nosed back ahead but Pau Gasol hit two three-pointers and Spain was up 82-76. Slovenia held the Spanish scoreless for nearly 3 minutes and scored the next seven points to go up 83-82. After Rubio’s three points gave Spain the lead again, Prepelic buried a three-pointer and Tobey threw down an alley-oop before Prepelic and Zoran Dragic both hit two free throws in the final 14 seconds to ice the game. Rubio led Spain with 18 points and 9 assists, Alberto Abalde had 14 points, his Real Madrid teammates Sergio Llull and Fernandez both had 12 points in the loss.
In the earlier game in Group C, Argentina locked up the final spot in the quarterfinals with a comfortable 97-77 victory over host Japan. The ageless wonder Luis Scola was unstoppable with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Facundo Campazzo collected 17 points, 7 rebounds and 11 assists. Argentina finished third in the group with a 1-2 record and went into the final eight for the fifth straight Olympics as it was one of the best two third-placed teams along with Germany. Japan, which got 18 points from Yudai Baba and a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double from Rui Hachimura, failed to get a win. Argentina led by double digits for large stretches of the first half but were only up 46-42 early in the third quarter. The Albiceleste responded with an 11-2 run to go ahead 57-44 and Japan was never closer than eight points the rest of the way.