Nicolas Batum assured Team France of a medal with a game-saving block to end the best game of the Olympic tournament. France edged out Slovenia 90-89 in the semifinals to set a date with the United States for the gold medal. France kept Slovenia at bay for most of the contest, primarily due to their defensive pressure on Luka Dončić. The Slovenian superstar was a willing passer for most of the fourth, and his teammates responded, making big shots down the stretch to put Slovenia in a position to win the game.
Nando de Colo led France with 25 points, and Even Fournier poured in 23, the two combined for 48 of the team’s 90 points. On the other side, Mike Tobey led the way for Slovenia with 23 points, eight rebounds, and some decent coverage on Rudy Gobert. Luka Dončić had a monster triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 18 assists. He was a brilliant playmaker throughout the game, but Slovenia needed a bit more scoring from him to outlast the French. Dončić was only 5-18 from the field and 2-9 from beyond the arc. Luka also seemed to be bothered by an upper-body injury, which would make sense for his poor shooting in such a big game. Still, the French made big plays down the stretch to secure the win and deserve all the credit for the big win.
With the loss, Luka suffers his first as a member of the Slovenia National Team and is now 17-1 at 22 years old. Even if Slovenia will miss their chance to play for gold, the team played a magnificent Olympic tournament dating back to their qualification by beating Lithuania in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. As long as Luka is on the team, Slovenia will be a force in international play.
Les Bleus aim to go 2-0 against Team USA en route to their first Olympic basketball gold for France. Fans can expect this to be a very different game as the US is coming off very impressive wins against Spain and Australia, seemingly finding their groove in Olympic play. If there is one team that can give the Americans trouble, it’s the French. France has a mix of young and experienced NBA players on their roster, playing alongside their nation’s best in leagues worldwide. Les Bleus has guards in Fournier and De Colo that can control the game’s pace and the athleticism to defend against Team USA.
The United States will be the overwhelming favorite coming into the gold medal match, but it is best not to discount what a win of this nature can do for a team’s morale. The Americans have been on a roll, but France has won some close games in their elimination matches. France versus The United States is the best gold medal match-up we could have asked for, so buckle up because it’s going to be an excellent finish.