The Slovenian men's basketball team will be competing in the Olympics for the first time in the nation's history. Their success is attributed to a few key players on their roster, especially Luka Doncic.
Team Slovenia will play against Spain, France, and Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics group stage. Although two teams will proceed to the next round, the best two third-placed teams will also qualify for the quarter-finals. While there are no easy groups, Group C is a tad difficult, as they will face two of the favorites in the tournament.
Qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was a record-breaking achievement for the Slovenians. It was a hard-fought qualifier as they had to overcome Lithuania, who had NBA stars like Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas.
Which Slovenian players will shine at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
Although ranked 16th in the FIBA world rankings, Slovenia has never participated in a basketball Olympic game, which is why the players that made their 2020 Tokyo Olympics appearance possible deserve recognition. Of all the great players on their roster, Luka Doncic deserves the most praise.
Doncic's introduction to the Slovenian men's basketball team has been a bright spark to the national team's exploits. He was instrumental in Slovenia winning the 2017 European Championship, earning him a spot on the all-tournament team. After failing to qualify for the FIBA 2019 World Cup, Doncic disregarded his offseason vacation and took it upon himself to earn his country a slot in the Olympics via the qualifiers.
At the end of the qualifiers, Doncic led Team Slovenia in points (21.3), assists (11.3), rebounds (8), and steals (1.5). The Dallas Mavericks star continued his NBA playoffs form for his national team. With Luka on their roster, the Slovenians are one to keep an eye on at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Mike Tobey is another Slovenian that will be a threat in the Olympics. He was undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft but had a short run with the Charlotte Hornets, featuring in two preseason games and one NBA game.
Tobe proved to be an excellent No. 2 to Doncic as both players had a good understanding during the qualifiers. He averaged 15 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks for Slovenia. In 2017, Tobe won the FIBA Intercontinental Cup MVP.
If Team Slovenia hopes to have a run for gold in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Luka Doncic and Mike Tobey need to bring their A-game every night. Although they are not early favorites, they are formidable enough to make a deep run in the tournament.