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Luka Dončić’s 2023 FIBA Run Was Nothing Short of Magical

Luka Dončić
James Francisco

Team USA may have headlined Manila’s 2023 FIBA World Cup festivities, though it would be negligent to note the resounding effect of Slovenia’s young Maverick, Luka Dončić, when supplementing the roars of those in attendance. 

Arriving in the Philippines after a delectable showcase in Okinawa, it’s safe to assume that the National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar captured the hearts of the local hoops culture through his unparalleled display—despite falling short of a potential finals berth.

Shimmering from the Land of the Rising Sun

Youtube: FIBA – The Basketball Channel

A determined world-ranked seventh seed following the FIBA World Cup qualifiers, Slovenia’s magic-infused Group F run saw the Central European nation trample its competition through a clean sheet performance. 

Dončić would capture his tournament-high 37 points during their first matchup against Venezuela, supplemented by 34 markers against Georgia in the succeeding contest. Routing their opposition by a 14-point average in the opening round, Slovenia showcased glimpses of basketball domination as the succeeding stage fortified their competitive claim.

The Slovenian Trojan Horse would encounter a seemingly impassible barricade in the third-ranked Boomers. Supplemented by an 18-point, 12-rebound outing from former Charlotte Hornet-Mike Tobey, Dončić would provide 23-7-7 along with six steals to limit the sole qualified Oceanic nation from contention.

Now a victory away from securing the top seed in Group K, the Slovenian battering ram would halt following a 29-point rout by first-seeded Germany.

Under Manila’s spotlights

Now immersed in the Philippines’ incomparable basketball-crazed atmosphere, Slovenia would come face-to-face with an NBA-slated Canadian roster through a single-game elimination bracket. Manila’s spotlight dangled above the 24-year-old Doncic, spearheading the charge to the nation’s first FIBA World Cup title.

Youtube: FIBA – The Basketball Channel

Hoping to harness the on-court wizardry displayed throughout his five-year NBA tenure, the FIBA World Cup’s average leading point scorer (26.3 ppg) would be limited to 26 markers, contrary to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 31 in 36 minutes. Dončić's Manila debut was short-lived, graduating with two technical fouls in 29 minutes.

A sizable Lithuanian squad further mitigated the Serbian magic in the classification round. New Orleans Pelican Jonas Valančiūnas commanded the field with a 24-12 double-double, leaving the Junaki squandering for a dub on Philippine soil. Rounding up the classification matchups, they look to a highly-contested matchup with Italy for the seventh and eighth finishers of the tournament.

Nothing but love

Donning the post-game conference stand following their defeat to Canada, he addressed the media on the unfathomable embrace from the local community.

“You know, I really appreciate the love,” he mentioned. “It’s been amazing, so many fans support me…it’s been really, really amazing, so I really appreciate the love,” Dončić told the media.

Instagram: @slamonlineph

Regardless of the outcome, the Filipino faithful stand behind their Slovenian icon through an overwhelming display of acceptance. His game remains organically and authentically his.

Nothing short of magicial.

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