The men’s basketball competition in the Tokyo Olympics is now off and running, with all 12 nations competing having played their opening game. Dominating the headlines thus far in Japan are Team USA and Slovenian star Luka Doncic for contrasting reasons.
Team USA disappointingly opened its Tokyo Olympics campaign as the Americans suffered a shocking 83-76 loss to France in their Group A matchup. France stunned the United States in the closing stages, unleashing a 16-2 run to snap the Americans’ 25-game winning streak in the Olympics.
No more aura of invincibility for Team USA
With the defeat, the United States dropped to 53-4 in the Olympics with NBA players on their roster. The other three losses came in the 2004 Athens Games when Team USA settled for the bronze medal. The days when the United States can show up and dominate the opposition in the international arena are long gone.
The Americans have now lost five of their last eight games with NBA stars in the lineup, starting with Team USA’s stunning defeat to France in the 2019 FIBA World Cup quarterfinals. Team USA’s current crop of stars has already tasted defeat three times, losing to Nigeria and Australia in their exhibition matches and now to France here in the Olympics.
Team USA had its chances against France, leading by as much as 10 points in the third quarter. Even though France battled back and grabbed a 62-56 lead entering the final quarter, the Americans responded with an 18-5 run of their own in the fourth period, with Jrue Holiday leading the charge.
Unfortunately for head coach Gregg Popovich and the rest of Team USA, their offense stalled as they missed each of their last nine field goal attempts to hand the win to France. However, all is not lost for the United States, who can still qualify for the knockout rounds with wins over the Czech Republic and Iran in their remaining group games.
Doncic dazzles in Olympic debut
While Team USA is still pondering its loss to France, the whole of Slovenia is rejoicing with their win against Argentina. Luka Doncic put on quite a show in his Olympic debut, recording 48 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks in 31 minutes of action to power Slovenia to a comprehensive 118-100 victory over Argentina.
Doncic, who shot 18 of 29 from the field and 6 of 14 from beyond the arc, created most of his damage in the opening half. He scored 31 points in the game’s opening 20 minutes, giving Slovenia a 62-42 lead at the break.
Brazilian Hall of Famer Oscar Schmidt’s Olympic record of 55 points was in danger of being broken, but Doncic slowed down his scoring pace in the second half with the game already out of reach for Argentina. Doncic’s 48-point output tied the mark set by Australian Eddie Palubinskas in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
Doncic’s exploits make Slovenia a real medal threat in this year’s Olympics. Even the gold medal is not out of the question for Doncic and company, especially with Team USA struggling for form at the moment.
READ MORE ON SWN:
© 2018 Sportsworldnews.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.