Significant stake for this last match of the group stage in Group B, since France are tied with Slovenia and Germany (3-1), and must therefore win their fifth meeting to keep the hope of a first place, or secure second. For the first place, the Blues must absolutely win against the Slovenes, and hope for a defeat of Germany against Hungary…
The main interested parties seem in any case to have understood the stakes, since the start of the match for the French players is close to perfection. The defense is in place, the address too and the Blues are close to a ten-point lead halfway through the first quarter. Slovenia misses its first six shots, and takes more than five minutes to register its first basket.
And yet, despite this ideal start for France, the match then quickly tipped in favor of the Slovenians…
And the Luka “show” began…
Because a certain Luka Doncic sounds the revolt. The Dallas superstar hits very, very, very hard: he chained four winning shots in a row, all scored on Moustapha Fall or Vincent Poirier after “switches” on screens, and then added an “and-one”. Straddling the end of the first quarter and the start of the second, the Slovenian leader scored… 22 points in twelve minutes!
At the same time, France is losing its momentum, the fault in particular of a total of loss of balls which swells dangerously (nine in the first period). Fortunately, a good passage from Elie Okobo at the end of the second quarter, who scored 8 points including two outside shots, allowed the French team to stay within reach of their opponent, despite the turbulence caused by Hurricane Luka. Doncic.
At the break, Slovenia leads 44-40, while Luka Doncic already has 27 points, in just 19 minutes played…
Subsequently, there is a crossover between the two formations, which do not let go of a sole during the third quarter. Luka Doncic continues his work (39 points after three quarters), while France can count on good passages from Thomas Heurtel and Amath M’Baye to stay in touch. And after half an hour of play, the gap is the lowest there is (64-63).
A “finish” at loggerheads
The start of the last act turns in favor of Slovenia, which raises its tone strongly in defense and signs the most important break of the meeting (74-67), after an “and-one” from Luka Doncic, which exceeds 40 points and even sweeps Giannis Antetokounmpo’s record in this Eurobasket (41 points). A French reaction, initiated by Rudy Gobert who crushes Luka Doncic under a furious poster dunk, then by an award-winning shot from Thomas Heurtel, is however notable, and allows the Blues to return to equality at the start of the last minute (82- 82).
But hopes of victory are dashed when France lose a crucial ball, transformed into a lay-up, a few seconds later, by Goran Dragic on the other side of the field. The Blues lost by four small points, after a tough fight, against a possessed Luka Doncic (47 points). France finish the group stage third in Group B, and will therefore face Turkey in the round of 16.