Sep. 21—Coming up a bucket short of a chance to show what he can do against the best basketball team in the world did little to diminish Vlatko Cancar's experience at the Olympics this summer.
Cancar, entering his third season with the Denver Nuggets, was one of two NBA players on Slovenia's team alongside Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic.
The Slovenians lost the bronze-medal game to Australia after falling to eventual finalist France, 90-89, in the semifinals. Cancar finished with 11 points and nine rebounds against France, which lost to a United States team full of NBA stars in the gold-medal game. He added eight points and four rebounds in the final game of his first Olympics. In the group stage, he led Slovenia with 22 points in a win over Spain and earned some bragging rights against Nuggets teammate Facundo Campazzo with 12 points in a win over Argentina in Slovenia's first Olympic basketball game.
"It was a good experience. Just to represent my country, Slovenia, was an honor. I think the moment that stuck with me the most was the opening ceremony when Naomi Osaka lit the fire to start the Olympics. I still get chills now. I think it's just really incredible, being in the Olympics," Cancar said.
"All in all, it was a fun summer."
The hope is that fun spills over into the season. Cancar hasn't had many chances to go up against the best players in the world, as he's yet to crack seven minutes per game in the NBA. Last season, he posted 2.1 points and 1.2 rebounds per game in limited minutes. Cancar is preparing for that chance this season, noting he's dropped some bulk and feels more agile playing closer to his weight when he entered the NBA.
"I know that we are a really good team, a championship team. My role is going to be just adjusting to every situation that I'm going to be put in. I think that's going to be really helping me in the future for my basketball career. Whatever spot that I'm put in and the role that I'm assigned to is going to help me a lot," Cancar said.
"(My) expectations are being ready every minute that I get a chance to play."