For many years the United States has dominated international play in regards to basketball in the Olympics. The only surprise in the last two decades was when the United States fell to Argentina and went home with the bronze medal in Athens. However, there may be a team that could upset the United States in Japan.
IS TEAM USA IN TROUBLE
These last few years, the United States has had a couple of battles with Spain as many of the players are current and former players. However, players like Pau Gasol are no longer dominant like they used to be but are still solid players.
The United States has many All-Stars and other solid players on their roster; however, their chemistry is not in sync when compared to the international players who have played with each other through FIBA. Also, players like Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton have not had full camps as they played in the NBA Finals not too long ago.
Team USA defeated Spain in the quarterfinals 95-81 and ended Spain’s run of medaling in five straight Olympics. However, the USA basketball team had to battle through a sluggish start as Ricky Rubio had 38 points on 13-20 shooting. Kevin Durant is making the case to be the best Olympic basketball player ever as he led the way for the Americans with 29 points.
LUKA DONČIĆ DOMINATING INTERNATIONAL PLAY
Slovenia will have a shot for gold if they can get past France in the Semifinals. When looking at Slovenia’s roster, the talent does not jump off the page except Luka Dončić. You may recognize a few names like Vlatko Čančar who plays for the Denver Nuggets. Zoran Dragić (brother of Goran Dragić) and Mike Tobey had brief stints in the NBA.
However, this team has been persistent throughout the tournament as they were seen as a long-shot underdog to even medal in the Olympics. We are accustomed to seeing Luka dominate in the NBA as he is following in Dirk Nowitzki and may surpass the legend one day.
Dončić is currently averaging 26.3 points per game, which is the most by any player in the Olympics and one of only five with a scoring average of over 20 points per game.
The 22-year-old star is now 17-0 in international play and is nearing averaging a near triple-double in the tournament. Spain was so close to ending that streak until the team collapsed in the final minutes of the game as the team was relentless and came back to win.
This was a huge win for Team Slovenia as they avoided the United States until the medal stage and potentially the gold medal game. Luka had 48 points to kick off the group stage which was the highest-scoring output by a player in Olympic history against Argentina.
— Luka Doncic (@luka7doncic) August 3, 2021
Dončić barely missed a triple-double in a hard-fought battle against Spain. He had 12 points, 14 rebounds, and nine assists. The only player who recently got a triple-double in the Olympics was LeBron James in 2012. He nearly got another triple-double as he had 20 points, 11 assists, and 8 assists against Germany in the quarterfinals matchup.
Dončić may have struggled at times shooting the basketball and was in early foul trouble against Spain, Team Slovenia seems to adjust very well as they can space the floor very well. In the Olympics and FIBA, you only need four other solid contributors on the floor with Luka to make a deep run.
Slovenia still has another tall task ahead as Team France has a lot of current and former NBA players on their squad. As for Team USA, they can’t take their competitors lightly as Australia edged the Americans 91-83 in an Exhibition match in July.
Do you think Dončić has what it takes to secure Slovenia a gold medal as he puts his perfect international play record on the line?