France to face US in Olympic basketball final after beating Doncic, Slovenia

French team members celebrate their win as Slovenia’s players react after the men’s semi-final basketball match between France and Slovenia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on August 5, 2021. France advances to the gold medal game against the USA, which easily beat Australia earlier. (Photo by Aris Messinis/AFP)

(Agence France-Presse)

France edged Olympic debutant Slovenia, 90-89, Thursday to make the Tokyo Games men’s basketball final against defending champions the United States.

Nando De Colo poured in a game-best 25 points and Boston Celtics’ Evan Fournier added 23 to give their team a third crack at upsetting the US after failing to do so in their two previous Olympic finals in 1948 and 2000.

Earlier, Kevin Durant led the Americans past Australia, 97-78, to clinch the first final berth.

The final match is on Saturday.

The French lost in the last two Olympic quarterfinals to send four-time NBA championship-winning Tony Parker into retirement without a medal, but they now have a golden chance for a maiden title.

“We just had to fight to the last second, that’s who we are as a team,” said their Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. “The US is the best team in the tournament, we just need to get ready and be up for the challenge.”

Slovenia came out fast and was ahead for almost the entire first quarter, with Luka Doncic and Mike Tobey both netting 10 points each to take a two-point advantage into the second term.

They led by the same margin at half-time, but a stronger third quarter saw France go into the final stretch with a 71-65 lead and they held on in a tense finale.

Doncic had 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 18 assists in his first career loss in an international competition. (Agence France-Presse)

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