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Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece beat Luka Doncic, Slovenia to advance to Olympic qualifying final

An Olympics berth has eluded Giannis Antetokounmpo so far during his basketball career. He’s one more victory away from changing that.

Thomas Walkup had 19 points, Antetokounmpo added 13 points in 21 minutes and Greece moved one victory from the Paris Games, eliminating Luka Doncic and Slovenia 96-68 on Saturday from the semifinals of the Olympic qualifying tournament.

“Since coach (Vassilis) Spanoulis took this whole deal over, it's been one goal and that's to get to the Olympics,” Walkup said. “We're one game away from it. We have to stay humble and focused.”

Doncic finished with 21 points in the game in Piraeus, Greece, which marked first time the two NBA megastars faced one another while representing their senior national teams.

“They played way better than us. They were way more aggressive," Doncic said. "I think they have an amazing team. Obviously, they have Giannis. But other pieces are very important for them, too. And they’re very well-coached. ... They outplayed us today.”

The matchup was one of eight semifinals taking place to determine the last four berths in the men’s basketball field for the Paris Games.

Vasileios Toliopoulos added 14 points for Greece, which will meet Croatia on Sunday in the final of the Greece tournament, with the Paris Olympics berth going to the winner.

Other semifinal games took place Saturday at tournaments in Spain, Latvia and Puerto Rico.

Doncic, who played through injuries in the NBA Finals for the Dallas Mavericks in their five-game loss to the Boston Celtics, averaged 31 points in Slovenia’s first two qualifying games. But he came out flat on Saturday against Greece’s big front line.

Slovenia was put on its heels early, as Greece scored the game’s first 13 points and took a 32-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Greece’s advantage grew as high as 23 points in the second quarter before Slovenia used a late flurry to cut it to 47-33 at the half.

Greece came out fast again in the third, using a 11-3 run to get some distance and carried a 16-point edge into the fourth quarter.

Slovenia shot just 43% (23 of 54) from the field for the game. That compared to 54% (34 of 70) for Greece, which also held a 38-25 rebounding edge.

Croatia 80, Dominican Republic 77

Ivica Zubac went 10 of 10 from the field and finished with 25 points and nine rebounds to help Croatia outlast the Dominican Republic in Greece’s second semifinals of the day.

Dario Saric and Jaleen Smith added 14 points apiece to put Croatia into Sunday’s final with Greece for a chance at making back to the Olympics for the first time since 2016.

Christopher Duarte finished with 17 points to lead the Dominican Republic.

The game featured 13 ties and six lead changes and was in doubt heading into the final seconds.

Trailing 78-74, the Dominican Republic’s Jean Montero got a steal and was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 3 seconds left by Croatia’s Smith.

Montero converted all three ensuing free throws to cut the deficit to a point.

The Dominican Republic quickly fouled Mario Hezonja, who connected on both of his ensuing free throws.

Duarte got a good look at a 3 at the buzzer, but his shot rimmed out.

Brazil 71, Philippines 60

In Riga, Latvia, Bruno Caboclo had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Brazil defeated the Philippines 71-60 to advance to the finals of that tournament.

Marcelinho Huertas added 13 points to help Brazil keep alive hopes of playing in its first Olympics since 2016.

The Brazilians will meet Latvia on Sunday in the finals of that tournament.

Justin Brownlee finished with 15 points and eight rebounds to lead the Philippines, which shot just 38% from the field (24 of 64) for the game and had 15 turnovers.

The Philippines led 33-27 at halftime before Brazil opened the third quarter with a 14-0 run. It was part of a 24-6 quarter for Brazil, which took a 51-39 lead into the fourth.

It was more the same in the final period. The Philippines got as close as 53-46, before Brazil responded with an 8-0 run to help put the game away.

Latvia 72, Cameroon 59

In the second semifinal in Riga, Rihards Lomazs scored 20 points and Latvia withstood several late pushes to hold off Cameroon 72-59.

Rolands Smits added 13 points to help Latvia advance to Sunday’s final against Brazil, where it will be looking to earn its first Olympics appearance since 1936.

Latvia carried a 53-50 lead into the fourth quarter and started the final period with a 9-0 run.

Cameroon got within 65-59 with 2:14 remaining on a layup by Brice Eyaga Bidias. But Latvia was able to close the game out at the free throw line.

Williams Narace led Cameroon with 14 points.

Bahamas 89, Lebanon 72

In Valencia, Spain, Deandre Ayton had 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Bahamas past Lebanon 89-72.

Buddy Hield chipped in 19 points and 10 assists to help the Bahamas move within a win of making its first Olympics field. It will meet Spain in Sunday’s final.

The Bahamas led by as many as 20 in the first half.

Lebanon whittled that deficit down to 75-68 in the fourth quarter. But the Bahamas outscored Lebanon 14-4 over the final 3:50.

Sergio El Darwich led Lebanon with 22 points.

Spain 81, Finland 74

Willy Hernangomez scored 28 points and Spain rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Finland 81-74 in Valencia’s second semifinal of the day.

Lorenzo Brown and Santiago Aldama added 15 points apiece to send Spain into Sunday’s final against the Bahamas. Spain will be seeking a seventh consecutive Olympic berth.

Andre Gustavson had 15 points for Finland, which hasn’t gotten to the Olympics since 1964.

There were three lead changes during a furious final 10 minutes.

Finland carried a 59-56 lead into the period and took its final lead at 66-64 on a 3-pointer by Elias Valtonen. But Spain outscored Finland 18-8 the rest of way.

Lithuania 88, Italy 64

Marius Grigonis scored 23 points, including six 3-pointers, the help Lithuania ease past Italy 88-64 and to advance to the finals of the San Juan, Puerto Rico tournament.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas added 14 points to keep Lithuania on track to qualify for its first Olympic tournament since 2016. It will meet Puerto Rico on Sunday.

Lithuania blew the game open with a 21-4 run that began in the second quarter and lasted into the third as it opened a 59-40 lead.

Danilo Gallinari led Italy with 15 points.

Puerto Rico 98, Mexico 78

Tremont Watter had 24 points to help host Puerto Rico roll into Sunday’s final with a 98-78 win over Mexico.

Jordan Howard finished with 20 to give Puerto Rico a spot in Sunday’s final against Lithuania. Puerto Rico will be attempting to qualify for its first Olympics since 2004.

Seven of the last eight games between the teams had been decided by 10 points or less. It was tight again on Saturday before Puerto Rico pulled away in the second half, leading by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter.

Fabian Jaimes led Mexico with 20 points.

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games