France and Slovenia will meet head-on this Thursday night to determine which team will get the second — and last — ticket to the gold medal game in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics men’s basketball tournament.
Catch this game live on August 5 at 7 pm, Manila time.
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Nando de Colo
- SG: Evan Fournier
- SF: Nic Batum
- PF: Guerschon Yabusele
- C: Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert will miss playing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics once he returns to his professional duties for the Utah Jazz. The Stifle Tower has been taking full advantage of the absence of the defensive three-second rule, camping out in the paint and scaring away opposing slashers from even taking attempts from point-blank range.
He’s certainly a big reason why France opponents are scoring just 72.5 points per game in the tournament, as he could defend multiple players and zones all at the same time. Even Team USA had a hard time getting buckets against Les Bleus, scoring just 76 points on 36.2 FG%.
Luka Doncic is going to be a problem, but baskets will be harder to come by for him against France, which also boasts of excellent perimeter defenders in Guerschon Yabusele and Nic Batum. France has four players averaging double figures, led by Evan Fournier, who’s putting up 18.3 per contest.
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Luka Doncic
- SG: Jaka Blazic
- SF: Zoran Dragic
- PF: Vlatko Cancar
- C: Mike Tobey
In Luka Doncic, Slovenia trusts. Doncic is undoubtedly the most important player for Slovenia. The team wouldn’t have come this far without the Dallas Mavericks’ golden boy. However, Slovenia had already proven that it’s more than just about Luka. When they scored an upset against Spain in group play, Doncic scored just 12 points.
It’s hard to imagine Slovenia beating Spain with Doncic shooting just 2 of 7 from the field, but it’s a testament to to the depth of his team. Vlatko Cancar and Mike Tobey are no pushovers. Cancar had 22 points against Spain, while Tobey had 16.
Against Germany, Zoran Dragic paced Slovenia with 27 points, while Tobey had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. It would be a mistake for France to focus just on stopping Doncic, but at the same time, the French can’t relax on him. This kind of Catch-22 situation should keep France on its toes from beginning to end this Thursday.
Spread: France is a tough team to crack with Gobert in the middle, but look for Doncic, Dragic, and Cancar to work on variations of two-man games to take him out of the paint and break down Les Bleus’ D. Take Slovenia (-2.5) to cover.
Over/Under: Slovenia will have to win this game with its offense. I like the Slovenians’ chances here, so I’m taking the Over (174.0).