By Rocky Swift
SAITAMA (Reuters) – Slovenia rolled over Japan 116-81 in Olympic men’s basketball on Thursday, overwhelming the heroics of Rui Hachimura for the host nation.
Slovenia improved to 2-0 in the group stage, scoring more than 100 in both games. Luka Doncic, who plays for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, led with 25 points, but he got ample help in scoring from the starting five and the bench.
“That’s the thing that separates Luka from other stars. Even in the NBA, he makes the team better,” said team mate Luka Rupnik. “We have a lot of talent, and Luka just finds the better solutions.”
By contrast, Hachimura was practically alone on the Japan side. The Washington Wizards star had 34 points, up from the 20 he had in Monday’s loss against Spain.
Slovenia jumped ahead 53-41 in the first half on strong rebounding and accuracy in the paint. The team never fell behind and racked up the score with 15 3-pointers.
“They played better than us,” Japan’s coach Julio Lamas said at a post-match press conference. “Doncic is one of the top four or five best players in the world right now,” he added.
In the morning match, the Canadian women’s team bounced back from their loss to Serbia to beat South Korea, 74-53. The Canadians grew increasingly confident, building on their lead each quarter with Bridget Carleton leading in scoring with 18 points.
“We really keyed in on our defensive pressure going into the second half and I think that really helped us with the victory,” said Canada’s Shay Colley.
Canada is now 1-1 in the Group A preliminary round, while South Korea slid to 0-2.
(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Hugh Lawson)