And the Luka Dončić world domination tour continues.
The Slovenian men’s national team remains the feelgood surprise of the Tokyo Olympics as the Mavericks’ superstar point guard led them past Germany, 94-70, on Monday night, Dallas time, to advance to the semifinals.
Dončić flirted with a triple-double before settling for a 20-point, 11-assist, eight-rebound night as he led a runaway in the fourth quarter.
The Slovenians now advance to the semifinals on Thursday when they will play France. The strong French team, packed with NBA players, defeated Italy 84-75 early Tuesday morning to earn their spot in the semis. They were led by Rudy Gobert (Utah), Evan Fournier (free agent) and Nic Batum.
A win against France would send Slovenia, the unlikely team that had never made the Olympics before this year, to the gold medal game. A loss means they would play for bronze.
Dončić now has played 17 international matches. The Slovenians are 17-0 in those games. His team swept its way to the 2017 European championship and won all four games in qualifying to reach the Olympics, where they now are 4-0.
They came into the quarterfinals meeting with Germany as 14-point favorites and their status was well-justified, as it turned out.
“He’s not coming here to show off,” said Slovenian coach Aleksander Sekulic to reporters in Japan. “He’s coming here to help the team. He came here to have fun on the court, have fun with the guys and we are here to use him as much as possible, to use his magic.”
Slovenia won this game with a grinding mentality. They had averaged 110 points per game in their first three games during pool play.
The Germans slowed things down, but Dončić powered the Slovenians to the blowout win, leaving the game with under 2 minutes to play.
The Slovenians took charge of the game in the first quarter when they went ahead 25-14. The Germans made a nice comeback to take a 32-31 lead, but the Slovenians quickly regained the advantage.
In the third quarter, they pulled away to lead 66-54 headed into the final 10 minutes.
The Germans had no answers for the Slovenian trio of Dončić, Mike Tobey and Zoran Dragic, all of whom have NBA experience. Dragic was sizzling from long range and finished with 27 points. Tobey had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
“Obviously, they have one of the best players in the world,” said German coach Henrik Roedl. “But he’s not alone. He shares the ball well. They knock down shots.”
But Dončić remains the focal point. He made a tough midrange jumper with 7:50 to play that put the Slovenians up 71-59. And they never eased off the gas the rest of the way.
He and his teammates now will get some important rest before the semifinals.