The Slovenian men’s basketball team rolled past Argentina 118-100 in their Olympic debut on Monday as Luka Doncic scored 48 points to come close to breaking the single-game scoring record for the tournament.
Argentina may have the Olympic pedigree, with a gold and a bronze medal to their name, but newcomers Slovenia showed no hesitation out of the gate, taking an early lead on four straight three-pointers including three by Doncic.
By halftime Doncic, on the Dallas Mavericks roster in the NBA, had 31 points, accounting for half of his team’s scoring as they led 62-42 and never looked back.
Doncic finished on 18 for 29 shooting, including six three-pointers, and added 11 rebounds and five assists.
“We had a plan and the players executed this plan, especially offensively we were – what can I say, amazing. We scored 118 points,” said Slovenia head coach Aleksander Sekulic.
“This guy here was playing a hell of a game. It’s easier then,” he said, referring to Doncic who was sitting next to him at the post-game news conference.
Doncic said he was happy just to get a first Olympics win for his country’s basketball team.
“It’s our first Olympics, we win the first game and I think it’s very special for everyone in Slovenia,” Doncic said.
The loss spoiled Luis Scola’s return to the Games as he was playing in his fifth Olympics for Argentina.
“Up until three hours ago I was very excited, but you know right now is not really a good time. We just lost an important game by a lot of points,” said Scola, who led his team with 23 points.
“At the end of the day I enjoy the Olympics regardless if we win or lose … just not today, not right now.”
Brazil’s Oscar Schmidt holds the single-game record with 55 points set in a 1988 game against Spain. Doncic’s 48 points tied him for second place alongside Australia’s Eddie Palubinskas in 1976.
Slovenia will take on hosts Japan on Thursday and Argentina face Spain. Japan and Spain will play later on Monday.