France will take on Slovenia in a matchup of two undefeated teams in the semifinals of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball competition in Saitama, Japan on Thursday. At stake for the two teams is the chance to play in the finals and possibly win the Olympic gold medal in basketball.
This semi-final matchup features one team that's centered around one superstar (Slovenia) and another that’s powered by several players from the NBA (France).
But Slovenia, first-time Olympic basketball participants, appear to be growing stronger as the competition progresses. They have shown the kind of team chemistry seen only in teams that have played in the Olympics for a long time.
France’s defense is anchored around 2021 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and they have put his defense to good use in the Olympics. Gobert has given his teammates the spotlight to shine offensively, but he can put the ball in the hole as well, as he showed against Italy in the quarter-finals.
Fixture - France vs. Slovenia | 2020 Tokyo Olympics Basketball
Date & Time - Thursday, August 5th, 8:00 PM JST (Thursday, August 5th, 4:30 PM IST)
Venue - Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan
France defeated Italy in the quarter-finals 84-75 with Gobert leading the charge in scoring, putting up 22 points with Evan Fournier adding 21. This is the country’s first time in the semifinals of the Olympics since 2000 after losing in the quarter-final rounds previously.
Nicolas Batum had a huge double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, as the three NBA stars put their stamp on the game to clinch a semifinal berth.
When they take on Team Slovenia on Thursday, Team France know tjhey will have to slow down Luka Doncic, who has been playing like an MVP in leading his first-timer squad. Gobert’s defense in the paint is going to be crucial in keeping him from making his short bankers in the lane, and that should limit Doncic’s options.
Team News: France
Nando De Colo and Fournier will start at the guard spots for France, who have one of the most stable backcourts in the Olympics. Guerschon Yabusele and Batum will be their starting forwards as Gobert will remain their man in the middle.
Expect Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot and Thomas Heurtel to play major minutes while Moustapha Fall, Frank Ntilikina and Vincent Poirier will give the starters a breather as well.
France Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Nando de Colo l Shooting Guard - Evan Fournier l Small Forward - Guerschon Yabusele l Power Forward - Nicolas Batum l Center - Rudy Gobert
Team Slovenia had an easy time getting to the semi-finals, winning easily against Germany 94-70 with Zoran Dragic scoring 27 points on 11-of-13 shooting from the field. Doncic played his usual all-round game with 20 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.
The Germans put up a fight in the second quarter but the Slovenians regained their touch as they stepped on the gas pedal in the second half. Center Mike Tobey added 13 points and 11 rebounds for Slovenia.
In the semifinals, they will be encountering the deepest team they’ve ever faced in these Olympics and it will take a total team effort to reach the gold medal round. The good news is, they showed against Germany how they’ve grown as a unit and aren’t just a one-man team.
Team News: Slovenia
Doncic and Jaka Blazic will continue to start in the backcourt for Slovenia. Vlatko Cancar and Zoran Dragic are the team’s starting forwards while Tobey takes the center position.
Klemen Prepelic and Edo Muric will be the main reserves for Slovenia while Aleksej Nikolic and Ziga Dimec could contribute a few minutes as well.
Slovenia Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Luka Doncic l Shooting Guard - Jaka Blazic l Small Forward - Vlatko Cancar l Power Forward - Zoran Dragic l Center - Mike Tobey
France vs Slovenia Prediction
France should be the favorites to win this matchup given the team’s strong leadership and how deep they can go to their bench without sacrificing the quality of play. That is, unless Slovenia can help minimize Gobert’s impact.
Slovenia’s best chance is to make it hard for France to score inside. The French men are averaging 37.0 points in the paint in the Olympics, which allows them to shoot at a high percentage (58.6%). France will have to slow down the hot-shooting Slovenians who are scoring a sizzling 61.9 percent of their field goals in the Olympics.
Doncic will be a tough cover for France, but if their defense holds up against the other players, there’s a chance that the Dallas Mavericks star won’t be as effective. Slovenia will have to contain Fournier, who has been a thorn for France’s opponents time and time again.
This should be a close game based on previous matches. It could definitely go either way, but France should win this by a hair in the final minute.
Where to Watch France vs Slovenia
Eurosport will have extensive coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Europe, as will Discovery+. Over in America, the Games are being shown exclusively on NBC and their various streaming platforms, while in India, the Sony Sports Network and OTT platform Sony Liv are broadcasting the action.
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