Luka Doncic says referees’ calls in Slovenia-Canada game ‘not fair’
MANILA, Philippines — Luka Doncic couldn’t hide his frustration after he got ejected with two technical fouls for continuous complaining to the referees as Slovenia bombed out of the Fiba World Cup 2023 title race.
Doncic’s 25-point effort went for naught after receiving his second technical foul and exiting the game with 6:37 left and Slovenia trailing Canada, 92-77.
The Slovenians, led by Klemen Prepelic, tried to fight back without their NBA star, but it wasn’t enough as the Canadians booked their first-ever World Cup semifinal appearance, 100-89, on Wednesday in front of the 11,000 who were mostly cheering for Doncic, at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Dallas Mavericks superstar, who was got hounded by Dillon Brooks all game long, said the referees’ calls were “unfair.”
“I think everybody knows what my frustration was. Playing for the national team, it’s a lot of emotions. A lot of times I don’t control myself which I’m having problems with but you know, the referees told one of the guys ‘We’re not gonna call a foul on him because he’s coming at us.’ I think this is not fair,” said Doncic after tallying four rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
“I know I complained a lot but I don’t think it’s fair. They’ve been playing very physical with me, but if you say that, it’s not fair,” he added.
The Filipino fans didn’t like Doncic’s ejection, chanting “Refs you suck! Refs you suck!”
The 24-year-old Doncic, one of the biggest NBA stars who played in Manila in this World Cup, believes he needs to lead the team better.
LUKA TOUGH TO GUARD IN ‘LEGAL WAY’
“We were close, honestly. But it starts with me and I got to be better for my team,” the Slovenian captain said. “With all the emotions, like I say, playing for your country, you’re gonna give your best and you wanna die out there. It starts with me for sure.”
Slovenia coach Aleksander Sekulic defended Doncic for his habit of complaining to the game officials, saying it’s tough to guard his star in a “legal way.”
“It’s difficult to play a game [where] you get hit constantly, all game long. It’s difficult to control the emotions and we work a lot on this but it’s very difficult and he has the ball a lot in his hands. It’s frustrating for Luka. You know you get tired from this. It’s very difficult that’s why the emotions come out,” Sekulic said.
“I know it’s not great, it doesn’t look good but it’s very, very difficult and that’s what makes Luka so special because he’s a great player and it’s tough to guard him in a legal way.”
Despite the frustrating end in his first game in Manila, Doncic congratulated Canada, which is emerging now as a strong contender for the title with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and RJ Barrett leading the charge.
“Congratulations to Canada. They played great, a very physical game, and they have one of the best players in the world so it was really tough to guard him,” Doncic said. “On the other side, I think Dillon [Brooks] played great. He was very physical like he always does. A lot of people don’t like him but I respect him for what he does and he does that stuff really good.”
Doncic and Slovenia have less than 24 hours to regroup before their classification round campaign against Lithuania on Thursday night.
“I’m proud of my team, Everybody gave a hundred percent when they went out there so we should go back to the hotel with our heads up and you know, I’m just proud of this team,” he said.