Olympic Gold is Luka Doncic’s goal this offseason.
The Olympic Games start Friday, July 23. However, Slovenia doesn’t start Olympic play in Group C until Sunday, July 25.
In Group C – alongside Slovenia – are Spain, Argentina and Japan. The favorite out of the group is Spain, which won the most recent FIBA World Cup (2019).
Slightly behind Spain is Argentina. They are led by Sergio Hernández, who coached the team in the 2008 and 2016 Olympic Games. In those contests, Argentina placed third and eighth.
The third team in the group, Japan, was granted automatic placement because Japan is a host nation. They are longshots to compete in the group, but with the growth of basketball in Japan, anything feels in the realm of possibility.
Slovenia was the last to qualify in the group, but they have the advantage of holding the momentum coming into the games. They won four straight games by a double-digit margin to qualify.
In the Olympic Qualifying Final, Doncic put together a masterful 31-point, 13-assist and 11-rebound triple-double en route to a 96-85 win over Lithuania. So, though Spain may be favored in Group C, there is a chance for Doncic to singlehandedly win the group for Slovenia.
The 12-team Olympic Tournament is broken up into three separate groups of four teams each. In those groups, each team plays three games against the other teams in their group. From that point on, the top two teams in each group advance to a knockout stage, and the winner of each game keeps advancing until they win the gold medal game.
A look at Slovenia’s schedule:
Group game 1: vs. Argentina, July 25 at 11:40 p.m. CT
Group game 2: vs. Japan, July 28 at 11:40 p.m. CT
Group game 3: vs. Spain, Aug. 1 at 3:20 a.m. CT
Quarterfinals*: vs TBA, Aug. 3 at TBA
Semifinals*: vs. TBA, Aug. 5 at TBA
Bronze medal game*: vs. TBA, Aug. 7 at 6:00 a.m. CT
Gold medal game*: vs. TBA, Aug. 6 at 9:30 p.m. CT
(*) Slovenia must qualify to play in those games.
What to expect from Slovenia:
The games against Spain and Argentina will provide a measuring stick for Slovenia in the group. In fact, the Aug. 1 matchup with Spain may decide Slovenia’s hopes for moving forward to the knockout round.
The good news is that Slovenia has Doncic on their side, and he has yet to lose in an international competition dating back to 2017.
Doncic hopes to bring his country a medal in this year’s Olympic Games. If he plays as he did during Olympic Qualifying, that dream is certainly a real possibility.
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Feature image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.