Luka Doncic and Slovenia got off to an outstanding start as they defeated Argentina 118-100 in their first Olympic game. The scores have to be contextualized relative to the shorter game length with FIBA rules. 118 points in 40 minutes is equivalent to a 142 point pace in an NBA 48 minute game.
Luka was phenomenal. He had 48 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and six blocks. He did have six turnovers as he tried to put on a show once the game was largely out of reach. Slovenia outscored Argentina by 34 in the 31 minutes he played which means Slovenia was outscored by 16 in the nine minutes he didn’t. A large portion of that was garbage time at the end of the gam, however.
Luka’s 48 points were just seven shy of the Olympic record of 55 held by Oscar Schmidt. He quite possibly could have broken the record but he asked to be subbed out due to the game being out of reach. His three blocks were also impressive as he contributed on both ends.
Klemen Prepelic, Mike Tobey and Vlatko Cancar joined Luka in double figures with 22, 11 and 12 points respectively. Tobey also had 14 rebounds in 27 minutes before fouling out. Surprisingly, the sweet shooting Slovenian team did not shoot that well outside of Luka and Prepelic. Luka and Prepelic combined to shoot 10-of-20 from 3-point-range while the rest of the team managed only 6-of-23.
Looking forward, this win sets Slovenia up quite nicely for the rest of the group phase. Only two of the four teams (Slovenia, Argentina, Japan, Spain) in their group will advance to the quarterfinals. There was some concern that Slovenia might not be able to make it out of the group phase as Argentina and Spain are both world powers.
If Slovenia can beat Japan tomorrow as they should, they would put themselves in an even better position to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals. There are some unlikely scenarios where they could still lose in the group stage but it is incredibly difficult to believe that they will do so.
Any Olympic story is not complete without mentioning the struggles of Team USA. With their struggles, the Olympic tournament is much more open than in most years. Slovenia went to these games with a dream of a medal. Given team USA’s struggles it is not outside the realm of possibility that they should dream of Gold.