Whenever Luka Doncic wants to put his stamp on a game, there’s really not much an opponent can do about it.
Such was the case Tuesday when Germany was trying to upset Doncic’s native land of Slovenia in the EuroBasket in a game played in Cologne, Germany. In the end, Doncic was in too much of a rhythm for the home team as he finished with 36 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes to pace Slovenia to a hard-fought 88-80 victory.
The win helped Slovenia bounce back from Sunday’s very surprising 97-93 loss to Bosnia and Herzegovian and improved their record to 3-1.
Slovenia will next play France on Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. CT.
Germany chopped a 14-point deficit to 67-61 when Doncic re-entered this chippy contest with 7:46 remaining. The Dallas Mavericks’ three-time All-Star point guard proceeded to score 11 of Slovenia’s ensuing 13 points and staked his team to an 82-71 lead with 2:57 left.
It was vintage Doncic as he scored on a floater, on a jumper, on a three-pointer, and also he backed Dennis Schroeder down on the low post and scored twice over the Houston Rockets’ guard. Since Germany didn’t send anyone over to double-team Doncic and force the ball out of his hands, the 6-7 Doncic knew he had a sizeable advantage over the 6-1 Schroder.
Overall, Doncic was 14-of-25 from the field. But he wasn’t just a menace on the offensive end of the floor.
When Schroder was driving for what he thought would be an uncontested layup that would have gotten Germany within four points of Slovenia, Doncic emerged seemingly from nowhere to block Schroder’s layup attempt with only 1:38 remaining in the game.
From there, Goran Dragic buried a jumper to bump Slovenia’s lead up to 85-77 with 1:17 that all but sealed this victory for Doncic and company.
With just 10. 7 seconds left, a frustrated Schroder delivered a hard two-handed chopping foul on Dragic that led to players on the court pushing and shoving and shouting at one another. And it was Doncic who got to Schroder and settled him down.
After the referees reviewed the play, Schroder was issued an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction. But since he had already received a technical foul earlier in the game, he suffered an automatic ejection.
Besides the steady hand of Doncic, Dragic was 7-of-14 from the field and collected 18 points for Slovenia. Meanwhile, teammate Mike Tobey added 10 points and eight boards and suffered an ankle injury on a freak play when he rolled it on the game’s opening jump ball after he landed on the referee’s foot.
Schroder led Germany with 19 points and five assists, Andreas Obst scored 14 points and Maodo Lo added 13 points.
By halftime, Doncic was already cooking as he had 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists at that juncture and Slovenia led, 44-36. And earlier, Doncic drove and powered his way inside for a basket to put Slovenia up, 31-17, fans started shouting: “MVP, MVP, MVP!”
Doncic certainly didn’t let up in the second half in general and in the fourth quarter in particular when he continued to put his stamp on this game.