“I had to play this game for my team. And I did.
These were Nicolas Batum’s first words after his incredible game-securing block against Slovenian Klemen Prepelic in the final seconds of France’s semi-final against Slovenia at the Olympic Games.
But while Batum’s outstretched hand was the deciding factor in France’s 90:89 victory, the end of Luka Doncic’s incredible winning streak and the injury he sustained drew more press.
Before the clash between Slovenia and France, the Doncic-led squad was 17-0 with him, and although the team lost, Doncic still dominated several facets of the game; he lost 16 points, 10 rebounds and 18 assists – only the third triple-double in the history of men’s Olympic basketball.
“I don’t think we played great, but we were there,” said Doncic after the game. “We had the last chance and we didn’t make it.”
While Slovenia will face Australia in the battle for a bronze medal (the first medal for either country in basketball in their respective Olympic history), France will face the United States in the gold medal game.
Team USA have historically been dominant in basketball, but France have had the upper hand over the USA lately (France have beaten them in their last two meetings, including their opening game at the Tokyo Olympics).
France are now 5-0 at the Olympics and have only played the title twice before – in 1948 and then in 2000.
Led by Batum, Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier, the French have a real chance for gold in Tokyo.