Summary List Placement
The French men’s basketball team knocked off Slovenia in the Tokyo Olympics semifinal with a game-saving block in the final seconds.
With France leading Slovenia, 90-89, with five seconds remaining, Slovenian guard Klemen Prepelic received a pass from Luka Doncic on the wing and drove to the basket for the go-ahead layup.
French forward Nicolas Batum then extended his arm and smacked the ball off the backboard. The ball ricocheting to center Rudy Gobert, who threw the ball away as time expired.
The win ended a 17-game win streak for Doncic with the Slovenian national team, dating back to 2017.
It had been a remarkable run in Tokyo for Doncic, who admitted to reporters that a gold medal would mean more to him than an NBA championship. Doncic opened the Olympics with a 48-point explosion against Argentina. Throughout the Tokyo Olympics, Doncic had flirted with triple-doubles.
Doncic did secure a triple-double in the semifinal against France, becoming the first player to do so since LeBron James in 2012, but he struggled with his shot, going 5-of-18 from the field.
Doncic’s choice to pass to Prepelic was eyebrow-raising, as he had Gobert on a switch. Gobert, a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, is a stout rim protector but has been exploited on the perimeter by quicker, shiftier NBA guards. Perhaps Doncic’s shooting woes played a part in his decision to pass on the final play.
Gobert, for his part, praised Batum’s block, calling it one of the best he’s ever seen.
“Probably one of the best blocks I’ve seen,” Gobert said. “Being able to grind for 40 minutes and win an Olympic game on that block, it’s just amazing. This is why you play the game. This is why you work hard, why you sacrifice time from your families, to come here and try to accomplish something and be part of those moments.”
Batum said he had always dreamed of making such a play.
“I always dreamed of playing in this type of game,” Batum said. “And I had to make this play for my team. And I did it.”
France will play the U.S. in the gold medal game.
Watch the play below:
REJECTED at the buzzer!
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) August 5, 2021