Slovenia wins hard-fought tilt against Spain in battle of unbeatens

Posted at 8:41 PM, Jul 31, 2021


It's been smooth sailing for Luka Doncic and Slovenia since the start of group play. After taking down Argentina and routing Japan, it seemed nothing could go wrong for the Slovenians in their first-ever Olympic men's basketball journey.

Sunday morning provided Slovenia its first true challenge. Spain, one of the top dogs in the men's basketball competition, was looking to stay unbeaten in group play and soar into the quarterfinals with the utmost confidence.

Slovenia answered the bell, though, and took down the Spaniards to further extend their run of success and remain undefeated in Tokyo.

Doncic unsurprisingly was the key contributor for Slovenia in its road to victory once again, but things got a bit dicey for him early on. The two-time NBA All-Star stayed on the bench due to foul trouble for a significant portion of the second quarter. Still, Doncic finished the first half with eight points, nine rebounds and five assists even without the extra minutes on the floor.

Spain came out fast and furious to start the second half, quickly going on an 11-2 run that forced the Slovenians to take a timeout. But thanks to some strong play from play from Doncic, Vlatko Cancar and big man Ziga Dimec, it was only a matter of time before the game was tied at 68 apiece.

From that point on, Spain and Serbia traded blows like a pair of heavyweight sluggers. The back-and-forth affair went all the way down to the wire when, with 1:39 remaining in the fourth quarter, Mike Tobey threw down a massive alley-oop slam to put Slovenia up 88-85. Spain's Ricky Rubio then sunk a layup and forced a turnover to help put his countrymen in position to take the lead. But thanks to some stellar defense and free-throw buckets from Klemen Prepelic, the Slovenians pulled out the massive victory to carry with them into the quarterfinals, winning by a score of 95-87.

Doncic finished the game with a modest 12 points, as Spain barely gave him room to breathe when he was on the floor. Stepping up was Tobey, who finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Cancar, who made four out of his five three-point attempts and finished the game with a team-leading 22 points.

If the Slovenians weren't feeling on top of the world before this contest, they certainly will be when they begin the knockout round.