By: P.T./ STA
After securing a place in the quarter-finals of the basketball tournament at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Slovenia continued their winning strike on Sunday by beating Spain 95:87 in the third game of the tournament, in which Slovenia remains undefeated. Slovenia will face Germany in the quarter-finals.
Slovenia’s Vlatko Čančar scored 22 points, Mike Tobey had 16 scores and Klemen Prepelič 15. Slovenian superstar Luka Dončić was not dominant, having scored 12 points, 14 jumps and nine passes.
The two teams, the reigning 2017 European champions and 2019 World Champions, were neck and neck.
In the first quarter, Slovenia’s plans were marred by Dončić’s third personal foul, which cost him a few minutes on the bench, so he only scored eight points in the first half.
Spain scored eight 3-pointers, and the result after the first half was 41:44. After the break, Spain was in the lead 55:43 after less than three minutes of the game, but then Slovenia started to play more aggressively in the defence and got organised in the attack to make up for the loss in the third-quarter (68:68).
Čančar scored 20 points in the first 30 minutes, and Dončič 12 points and 11 passes.
But the winner was decided in the final minutes of the game. Slovenia caught up with Spain (82:76) in the 37th minute (83:82).
Tobey’s scoring 100 seconds before the end of the game turned things around for Slovenia (88:85), and Prepelič’s two free throws 13 seconds before the end again brought three points of advantage to the Slovenian team. Ricky Rubio’s missing a 3-pointer for Spain, finally tipped the scale in Slovenia’s favour.
Slovenia head coach Aleksander Sekulić said he truly enjoyed the game. “I’m proud of the performance of our team against world champions, a great coach and basketball players whom we forced to play a zone defence for 40 minutes. I think they are the first world champions who played zone for 40 minutes, and against Slovenia. We can be proud of that,” he said.
“We’ve expected a zone, two or three players on me, but not the entire 40 minutes. I was looking for free players with a free shot and we were successful. Unfortunately, we missed a lot but we won in the end. That’s all that counts here. We must stay focussed, but I know we’re ready for any opponent,” said Dončić.
The Slovenian team continues to the quarter-finals as the best team in its group C. After winning against Argentina, Japan and Spain it remains the only undefeated team along with France and Australia.
Slovenia’s opponent in the quarter-finals on Tuesday will be Germany, which was determined in today’s draw today between Italy and Germany, which ranked second and third in group A, respectively.
If they win that match, Slovenia will face Italy or France in the semi-finals.