25 July, 2021
07 August
5 Nicolas Batum (FRA)
Game Report
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Batum's block sends France to the Final

TOKYO (Japan) - It is France! Les Bleus ended the perfect run for Slovenia with Luka Doncic in the lineup as the reigning EuroBasket champs suffered their first defeat in 18 games, 90-89.

Captain Nicolas Batum came to the rescue for France with a behind-the-back backboard block at the buzzer to end Slovenia's hopes of making a golden run at their first Olympic Games appearance here at the Saitama Super Arena. 

France move on to the Final, where they will play against the USA. They have already beaten them on the opening day of the basketball program in Tokyo 2020, adding a bit more flavor to the already intriguing matchup.

Turning point: It was a classic, a game for the ages, and with the teams trading blows all game long, it came down to the closing minutes. France held a two-point lead that was tested several times, the closest when Jaka Blazic's corner three-pointer rimmed out with just over a minute to play.

Slovenia did not take their set point, so Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot aced the French one to make it 90-85 with 56.1 to play. But it was only set point, not match point - Klemen Prepelic found four quick points to make it a one-point game, and once Nando De Colo missed his long two, it was Slovenia with the match point.

Luka Doncic was double-teamed, so he sent the ball to Klemen Prepelic. The guy who doubled Doncic was Batum, yet he still managed to recover in time for the game-winning block on Prepelic as time expired.

Game hero(es): Nando De Colo had 25 points and Evan Fournier 23, but Rudy Gobert and Nicolas Batum brought the defense, combining for 8 blocks on the night!

Bottom line: France make the title game after 21 years, and they are up against the team they already defeated here in the Saitama Super Arena. Slovenia face Australia for the bronze medal.

They said: "I had to make a play like that. I have been in the Olympics twice and I have been hurt twice. I have dreamed of playing in the Final my whole life. I discovered the Olympics in 1996. I watched the Dream Team and it was after that I followed the NBA. I always dreamed of playing in this type of game. I knew that I didn't have a good game on offense, but I had to make this play for my team to take them to the Final and I did it." Nicolas Batum on the game saving block 

"I can say I am really proud of this team. Everyone gave 100 percent. We worked hard for two months to be here. I think we might have surprised a lot of people but I am proud of each of the guys but we have one more Final to go and we will not give up yet." Luka Doncic, repeating multiple times that he wants a medal

"I think Batum was helping so I had to pass. I think he was open and it was a great drive but Batum had an amazing block. Not always you can make a smart choice but I chose them and they chose me and I thought it was a good choice." Luka, when asked why he didn't take the last shot - well, other than the fact that he was double teamed.