In a matchup of two young NBA stars, Doncic gets the better of Japan’s prodigal son despite 34 points from Hachimura.
Rui Hachimura was good. Unfortunately for Japan, Luka Doncic was a tick better.
Doncic keyed Slovenia to their second straight win of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Thursday (29 July), a
116-81 win against Japan who dropped their second in a row despite 34 points and seven rebounds from Hachimura.
Doncic, who unloaded 48 points in his Games debut against Argentina on Monday, had 25 points, 7 boards and 7
assists in an efficient 25 minutes at Saitama Super Arena.
While Hachimura certainly held his own against two-time All-NBA first team playmaker Doncic, the difference between Japan and Slovenia was in the supporting cast.
Hachimura, alongside captain WATANABE Yuta (17 points, 7 rebounds), had to plug in a hard 36 minutes of work
to keep the scoreline from getting any worse especially after starting power forward Gavin Edwards went out with
a shoulder injury.
Doncic only played when he needed to. The Dallas Mavericks All-Star received all-round help from the likes of Zoran Dragic (24 points), Vlatko Cancar (16 points) and Mike Tobey (6 points, 11 rebounds).
Hachimura’s frustration was visible after the game, not just over the defeat – which put Japan on the brink of elimination – but how they lost as a unit.
“They’re not just about Doncic”, the Washington Wizards man said. “We knew they have players who can play other than Doncic and that’s where we focused on. But we were overmatched as a team.
“We started off well but at the end of the day, their strength overpowered ours.
“They beat us as a team, it’s a tough one”.
Hachimura, individually, had a much better game than in the loss to Spain on Monday but did not seem to care about his stats on the afternoon. You could see the gap between the two teams eating away at him.
“Whether it’s on defense or offense I play to win. It doesn’t matter how many I score – or don’t score”, he said.
“And seeing it that we lost again, I don’t think I did enough”.
Just as Argentina gushed about Doncic after he delivered one of the best solo performances in Games history, Japan did the same, kneeling before Luka the Don.
“Luka Doncic is one of the four, five best players in the world right now”, said Japan coach Julio Lamas.
“It’s not easy to have a plan because he’s excellent in all situations. He can score, drive, shoot from long range or post up and create the game for all the other players.
“I don’t see one player in the last 30 years dominate the game like he’s doing at this tournament. When you lose you’re never happy but I think it’s a good experience playing one time against him. I will remember it”.
Added Watanabe, “You try to lock in on him and he’ll get you. Ultimately they were the better team overall.
“It hurts and all we can think about is the next game right now”.
Hachimura and Japan take on Argentina on Sunday in what could be their finale of Japan’s first Games appearance in 45 years.