The United States men’s team lost in their first Olympic game on Sunday morning, falling to France following a fourth-quarter meltdown in which their offense failed to create anything in the final minutes. With the toughness allowed and the lack of defensive three seconds, USA hoops’ recent offensive troubles have acted as a reminder of how different the NBA game is from FIBA basketball.
It gives those with FIBA expertise an advantage, as we saw in the early hours of Monday morning when another NBA star, Luka Doncic, had no trouble adjusting to the international game as he lit up Argentina in a historic Olympic scoring effort.
Doncic didn’t waste any time getting going, scoring 17 points in the opening quarter, including a number of his famous stepback threes, to set the tone for one of the most overpowering individual performances in Olympic history.
Doncic had 31 points and eight rebounds in the first half, as he was simply unstoppable, using his power to maul Argentina’s guards in the post and his agility to get by bigger players whenever they shifted to the perimeter.
In the second half, Doncic began to add some extra spice to his game, culminating in this spectacular behind-the-back bounce pass to a rolling Mike Tobey as the game’s icing on the cake.
Slovenia stormed away with a 118-96 triumph over the world’s fourth-ranked team, proclaiming their presence on the Olympic stage for the first time in style. Doncic finished with 48 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists on 18-of-29 shooting (6-of-14 from three). Doncic’s 48 points tied him with Eddie Palubinskas for the second most points in a 40-minute Olympic basketball game, following only Oscar Schmidt’s 55 points for the all-time record.
Klemen Prepelic was Slovenia’s secondary hero of the night, hitting 4-of-6 three-pointers while assisting Doncic with 22 points and lighting it up from downtown — according to the announcer, he’s known as the Slovenian Stephen Curry, and for good reason. Argentina didn’t have the shooting night they needed to keep up with Doncic, Prepelic, and the rest of Slovenia, going 5-of-31 from three-point range and now facing an uphill task to advance out of a tough group that also includes Spain.