Rui Hachimura did whatever he could
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Problem was, the other side had Luka Doncic.
The Dallas Mavericks star had another impressive performance with 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 26 minutes, Zoran Dragic scored 24 points and Slovenia remained unbeaten in its Olympic debut by beating Japan 116-81 in the Tokyo Games on Thursday.
Vlatko Cancar added 16 for Slovenia, which has won its two games in Saitama by a combined 53 points.
Hachimura finished with 34 points and seven rebounds. Yuta Watanabe added 17 for Japan.
The Hachimura vs. Doncic matchup got off to a flying start, both players finishing the first quarter with 13 points and Slovenia taking a 29-23 lead after the opening 10 minutes.
The margin was up to 53-41 at the half, and Japan still seemed to have a shot early in the fourth down by only 14.
And then Doncic returned, ending whatever hope the hosts had.
Doncic didn’t play in the final 5:30 of the third quarter, grabbed a seat at the end of the Slovenia bench, draped towels over his shoulder and lap and kept them there until he checked back in early in the fourth. His first possession: a stepback 3-pointer from the left wing that dropped, putting Slovenia up 83-66 with 9:14 remaining.
Slovenia outscored Japan 20-7 in Doncic’s final shift of the game, and when he checked out for good all doubt was gone — the lead was 100-73.
The final games of Group C are Sunday, when Japan (0-2) plays Argentina and Slovenia (2-0) will meet reigning Basketball World Cup champion Spain.