“I had to make this play for my team. And I did it.
Those were among Nicolas Batum’s first words after his incredible, game-saving block on Slovenia’s Klemen Prepelic in the final seconds of France’s semi-final matchup against Slovenia in the Olympics.
However, while Batum’s outstretched hand was the deciding factor in France’s 90-89 win, what garnered more press, was the end of Luka Doncic’s incredible streak of international wins and the injury he sustained in the process.
Before Slovenia’s matchup with France, the Doncic-led squad was 17-0 with him on the court and though the team lost, Doncic still dominated in multiple facets of the game; he dropped 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 18 assists — only the third triple-double in Olympic men’s basketball history.
“I don’t think we played great, but we were there,” Doncic said postgame. “We had the last chance, and we didn’t make it.”
While Slovenia will play Australia in a matchup for a bronze medal (the first medal for either country in basketball in their respective Olympic history), France moves on to face the United States in the gold medal game.
Team USA has been historically dominant in basketball but France has had the upper hand on the U.S recently (France has beaten them in both of their last two meetings, including their opening game at the Tokyo Olympics).
France is now 5-0 in the Olympics and has only been in the title game twice before — in 1948, and then in 2000.
Led by Batum, Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier, the Frenchmen have a real shot at snagging gold in Tokyo.