Luka Doncic’s Fiba World Cup show ends in adoration
MANILA, Philippines—Luka Doncic may not been able to lead Slovenia past the quarterfinal of the Fiba World Cup, but he made one thing clear: Of all the basketball stars playing in the global showcase, he was the brightest of them all.
Doncic’s teammates can attest to it after he led the Slovenians to their best finish in the World Cup on Saturday, matching their result in 2014, following an 89-85 win over Italy in both teams’ finale.
Doncic dazzled for one last time in front of Filipino fans who serenaded him with MVP chants, collecting 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
“[He’s] not just [the best player in] Slovenia, I’ll say that he’s the best player in the world for me. He’s our leader and our captain. He showed us the way and everybody else did their job,” said Slovenia guard Gregor Hrovat.
“We tried to work together, we believed in him and more importantly, he believed in us and that’s the key to win games.”
Luka Doncic came two dimes short of the World Cup's first-ever triple double to power Slovenia's win over Italy and earn TCL Player of the Game honors 👏
— FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 🏆 (@FIBAWC) September 9, 2023
The 24-year-old Doncic was also coming off his best season in the NBA where he finished second to MVP Joel Embiid in scoring at 32.4 points a game. He also averaged 8.6 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 1.4 steals per outing.
The World Cup was no different as Doncic continued to show his all-around brilliance averaging 27 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists in eight games.
Doncic ended up becoming the first player with 200-plus points, 50-plus rebounds, and 40-plus assists in a single Fiba World Cup tournament in the last 30 years. His point total in just eight games allowed him to join an elite club that include the likes of Drazen Petrovic and Shin Dong-Pa.
“We know what kind of guy we have. He’s our wonder boy. Obviously, he deserves to be among these big names and he shows in every game and practice what kind of kid he is. He will accomplish even more in his career,” said guard Zoran Dragic.
“I still can’t believe he’s 24,” he added.
Coach Aleksander Sekulic also didn’t run out of praise for the Dallas Mavericks ace.
“To have Luka at this age and this elite club, I think it’s a big honor for him and a big honor for us as a country like Slovenia to have such a player. He showed his greatness not only as a player but also as a person,” Sekulic said.
“Don’t forget the fact that he played two games which basically doesn’t mean a lot if you play for fifth or seventh but for him it meant a lot. It shows greatness and love for his country and basketball.”