Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) warms up for Game...

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) warms up for Game 4 of the NBA basketball finals against the Boston Celtics, Friday, June 14, 2024, in Dallas. Credit: AP/Julio Cortez

Buddy Hield and the Bahamas are a step closer to the Paris Olympics. Luka Doncic and Slovenia are now facing an uphill battle to get there.

Hield scored 24 points, Valdez Edgecombe Jr. added 20 and the Bahamas beat Finland 96-85 on Tuesday in the first game of the Olympic qualifying tournament at Valencia, Spain.

“We grinded it out. Grinded out a win today,” Hield said. “Staying together, figuring it out. Game of basketball is a game of runs. First half, we didn’t quite figure it out.”

The tournaments in Spain and Greece were two of four that started on Tuesday to determine the last four spots in the men’s basketball field for the Paris Olympics. Other tournaments are being held in Latvia and Puerto Rico, both of them also starting on Tuesday. Group play at all four sites continues through Thursday, with semifinal games Saturday and four games with Olympic berths on the line set for Sunday.

The Bahamas closed the game on a 44-21 run over the final 17 minutes, erasing what was a 12-point second-half deficit.

But for Slovenia, there was no comeback. At Piraeus, Greece, Croatia led by as many as 29 points and rolled to a 108-92 win. Doncic had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for Slovenia, while Croatia had a its own triple-double — 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists — from Dario Saric, along with 21 points from Goran Filipovic and 18 points in 19 minutes from Ivica Zubac.

Croatia can qualify for the semifinals on Wednesday with a win over New Zealand. Slovenia must beat New Zealand on Thursday to have any chance of keeping its Olympic hopes alive.

“Croatia played great,” Doncic said. “They outplayed us. ... I've got to play way better than this and we've got to play with way better energy.”

Doncic was dealing with injuries during the NBA Finals when Dallas lost to Boston, and he was clearly laboring at times on Tuesday as well. But he insisted he would keep going.

“It's an honor for me to play for my country,” Doncic said. “A lot of times, there's going to be injuries. But I just see a big honor for me to play for my country. We're 2 million people and to represent my country, it means everything to me.”

Deandre Ayton scored 19 and Eric Gordon added 16 for the Bahamas, who can advance to the qualifier’s knockout round by beating Poland on Wednesday. It is an interesting mix for the Bahamas; three starters are NBA players, but the starting point guard is Lourawls Nairn — a former Michigan State player and now the associate head coach at Bowling Green.

“He's a coaches' dream and I think the players love playing with him,” Bahamas coach Chris DeMarco said. “He definitely belongs and he could be doing this for a living, but he pursued a different career.”

Mikael Jantunen and Edon Maxhuni each scored 20 for Finland, which faces Poland on Thursday.

Spain 104, Lebanon 59

At Valencia, host Spain rolled behind 17 points from Santi Aldama, 15 from Usman Garuba and 14 from Jaime Pradilla. Spain can wrap up a spot in the semifinals with a win over Angola on Wednesday.

Youssef Khayat scored 20 for Lebanon, which faces Angola on Thursday.

Brazil 81, Montenegro 72

At Riga, Latvia, Brazil trailed for most of the game but outscored Montenegro 29-16 in the fourth quarter to pull off the comeback.

Bruno Caboclo had 25 points and nine rebounds for Brazil, while Marcelinho Huertas added 17 points.

Nikola Vucevic led Montenegro with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Montenegro must beat Cameroon on Wednesday to keep hopes of reaching the semifinals alive. Brazil faces Cameroon on Thursday.

Latvia 83, Georgia 55

At Riga, host Latvia outscored Georgia 28-11 in the second quarter to take complete control and rolled to the opening win.

Arturs Strautins scored 18 points on 5-for-5 shooting to lead a balanced Latvian scoring attack, while Mareks Mejeris scored 11 (also shooting 5-for-5) and Rolands Smits finished with 10.

Sandro Mamukelashvili led Georgia with 14 points.

Latvia can clinch a semifinal spot by beating the Philippines on Wednesday. Georgia and the Philippines play on Thursday to close the group round.

Dominican Republic 90, Egypt 77

At Piraeus, Jean Montero scored 17 points, and the Dominican Republic used a 14-0 run spanning the end of the second quarter and start of the third quarter to pull away.

Chris Duarte scored 14 points, Victor Liz had 12 and Angel Nunez finished with 11 for the Dominican Republic.

Ahmed Metwaly led Egypt with 24 points.

The Dominican Republic can clinch a semifinal spot if it beats Greece on Wednesday. Egypt plays Greece on Thursday and must win to have any hope of advancing to the semifinals.

Italy 114, Bahrain 53

At San Juan, Puerto Rico, Danilo Gallinari and Nicolo Melli each scored 14 points and Italy finished with seven players in double figures.

Ahmed Haji scored 12 points to lead Bahrain, which gave up the game's final 19 points.

Bahrain must beat Puerto Rico on Wednesday to have any shot at the semifinals. Italy plays Puerto Rico on Thursday.

Lithuania 96, Mexico 84

At San Juan, Lithuania opened the second half on a 27-7 run that carried it to an opening win.

Marius Grigonis led the way with 21 points for Lithuania, while Tadas Sedekerskis added 12. Domantas Sabonis finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Joshua Ibarra scored 18 for Mexico.

Lithuania would reach Saturday’s semifinals with a win over Ivory Coast on Wednesday. Mexico plays Ivory Coast on Thursday, likely to decide another semifinal berth.

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