Luka Doncic, Slovenia dominate Argentina in Olympic debut

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Mavs Moneyball 26 July, 2021 - 11:20am 34 views

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Luka was phenomenal. He had 48 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and six blocks. He did have six turnovers as he tried to put on a show once the game was largely out of reach. Slovenia outscored Argentina by 34 in the 31 minutes he played which means Slovenia was outscored by 16 in the nine minutes he didn’t. A large portion of that was garbage time at the end of the gam, however.

Luka’s 48 points were just seven shy of the Olympic record of 55 held by Oscar Schmidt. He quite possibly could have broken the record but he asked to be subbed out due to the game being out of reach. His three blocks were also impressive as he contributed on both ends.

Klemen Prepelic, Mike Tobey and Vlatko Cancar joined Luka in double figures with 22, 11 and 12 points respectively. Tobey also had 14 rebounds in 27 minutes before fouling out. Surprisingly, the sweet shooting Slovenian team did not shoot that well outside of Luka and Prepelic. Luka and Prepelic combined to shoot 10-of-20 from 3-point-range while the rest of the team managed only 6-of-23.

Looking forward, this win sets Slovenia up quite nicely for the rest of the group phase. Only two of the four teams (Slovenia, Argentina, Japan, Spain) in their group will advance to the quarterfinals. There was some concern that Slovenia might not be able to make it out of the group phase as Argentina and Spain are both world powers.

If Slovenia can beat Japan tomorrow as they should, they would put themselves in an even better position to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals. There are some unlikely scenarios where they could still lose in the group stage but it is incredibly difficult to believe that they will do so.

Any Olympic story is not complete without mentioning the struggles of Team USA. With their struggles, the Olympic tournament is much more open than in most years. Slovenia went to these games with a dream of a medal. Given team USA’s struggles it is not outside the realm of possibility that they should dream of Gold.

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Luka Doncic drops 48 in Olympic debut as Slovenia crushes Argentina | Tokyo Olympics | NBC Sports

NBC Sports 26 July, 2021 - 10:10pm

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SAITAMA, Japan -- Luka Doncic is only a 22-year-old Olympic rookie, a player who might still be a few years away from his best basketball.

Sergio Hernandez doesn't need to wait to make the call.

"For me, I said this two years ago: He is the best player in the world, including the NBA," Argentina's coach said. "And if there was any doubt in my mind, there is no doubt anymore. He is the best player in the world."

It's hard to argue after Doncic's performance Monday at the Saitama Super Arena.

Doncic made a spectacular Olympic debut with 48 points, tied for the second-highest total in men's basketball history in the Games, to lead Slovenia to a 118-100 victory.

In Slovenia's first Olympic game ever, Doncic scored 31 points in the first half, putting him on pace to break the Games' scoring record of 55 points by Brazilian Hall of Famer Oscar Schmidt in 1988.

Though he didn't have to do as much in the second half with Slovenia's huge lead, the Dallas Mavericks guard stayed on the floor well into the fourth quarter and ended up tied with Eddie Palubinskas, who had 48 for Australia in the 1976 Games in Montreal.

There was still enough time left to break the record when Doncic checked out with a few minutes left, but he wasn't interested in pursuing more points.

"I don't care about records," he said. "We got a win and that's what we came here for."

"Everybody was telling him on the bench, 'OK, let's get the record,'" veteran Zoran Dragic said.

"But that's not the case. The case is to win the game. He knows that, and it's crazy that he's only 22 years old."

Slovenia didn't even have a spot in the Olympics until earlier this month but is a medal threat thanks to Doncic, who had a historic first postseason in the NBA and might just do the same in the Olympics.

Luis Scola scored 23 points for Argentina. Facundo Campazzo of the Denver Nuggets added 21.

The opening day of play in Group C started with Luka against Luis, the phenom against the 41-year-old veteran who was beginning his record-tying fifth Olympics in men's basketball.

"He was too good obviously," Scola said. "I mean, he was unbelievable."

Casually launching his step-back 3-pointers from well behind the international 3-point arc -- one came from just inside the Games logo at center court -- Doncic shot from places where Argentina just couldn't come out to defend.

When they tried, he just took his game inside, getting consecutive baskets on follow shots in the second quarter on his way to 11 rebounds.

That came during a 23-8 finish to the half for Slovenia, extending a 39-34 lead to 62-42 at the break.

Manu Ginobili was impressed, the Argentine idol tweeting at halftime that Doncic was "a beast" and praising his "tremendous mastery of the game."

Doncic had already shown he had that playing in Europe even before going on to win Rookie of the Year honors in the NBA. In his second season, he became the first NBA player to average 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in his first postseason series.

His first Olympics might be even better than that.

Slovenia has been a country on the rise, winning the EuroBasket title in 2017 and then qualifying for Tokyo by winning one of the Olympic qualifying tournaments earlier this month. The Slovenians knocked off host Lithuania in the final after Doncic went right to playing for his country after the Mavericks were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.

Argentina, the 2004 Olympic champions, were thought to be past their years of challenging for titles when Ginobili and some other stars from that era called it a career.

But Scola is still here and the Argentines showed they're not done just yet when they made a surprise run to the gold-medal game two years ago in the Basketball World Cup, losing to Spain but not until after clinching their spot in the Olympics.

Spain is also in Group C along with host Japan, but even those games shouldn't be any tougher than playing against Doncic.

"We tried everything that we would have tried against a normal player," Hernandez said, "but he's not a normal player."

Luka Doncic: “I like being a star of the Games”

Eurohoops 26 July, 2021 - 10:10pm

Luka Doncic enjoys the moment in his first Olympics experience

Luka Doncic was on the brick of making Olympics history, hadn’t it been for staying on the bench in the last five minutes against Argentina. Doncic, 22, had 48 points in his debut Olympics performance and stunned the world with this performance.

“Argentina is a very good team, it was difficult because they played very well in defense. But we prepared well for them and we played an extremely good game. We were solid in defense, we played well in the attack. The first Olympic match is behind us, the big victory and the feelings are very special”, said Doncic following Slovenia’s win.

As he further explained, he enjoys “being a star” in Tokyo. “It is a very special day for Slovenia,” said Doncic about the nation’s Olympic debut as adapted by Marca, a game in which he was only seven points away from tying the scoring record in the Olympics held by Oscar Schmidt (55 points). Despite this huge feat, Doncic takes it day by day. “I don’t care about the records, we wanted a victory and that’s what we came for”.

“I like being a star of the Games; I feel good to be one of the stars if I am”, said Doncic, who also joked about the photos taken in the Olympic Village. “I’m taking a lot of photos, yes, there could be more, although the one with the most photos is Djokovic”.

Day 2 all about champions: The habit of winning is impossible to kick

FIBA 26 July, 2021 - 10:10pm

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TOKYO (Japan) - Whether you're at the start of your career, like Luka Doncic, or at the end of it, like Pau Gasol or Luis Scola, chasing the wins will always be priority #1 for champions.

We are well aware of our privilege to be right here in the Saitama Super Arena, witnessing greatness firsthand, but while Luka Doncic was setting the world on fire, a single thought rushed to the heads of our staff on hand in Tokyo. We were among the rare people in the world who have seen Luka Doncic lose.

It happened during Media Day, two days before the competition started. Team Slovenia were done with their photoshoot and there was still enough time in the small practice court for Doncic and Klemen Prepelic to shoot a few shots from halfcourt. The venue confines allowed for more or less only a stand-still shot as there was zero room to get the run-up for a shot in a forward motion.

After missing two rounds of five shots, Klemen Prepelic moved a bench that was blocking his potential movement to the right. While his teammates teased him that he was nowhere near the bench anyway, and that surely the matter of missing from halfcourt was not about a bench, Prepelic silenced the laughter by knocking down not one, not two, but three of five shots from halfcourt.

Doncic rimmed out his attempts, and Klemen celebrated a win in a friendly shootaround. But it was so easy to see how furious Luka was because that's just who he is. Hates losing even when a simple game like that is in question - even when it's his friend and teammate.

"I don't care about records that much. We got a win. That's what we came here for. (The record) doesn't matter. It was three or four minutes before the end, and we won the game at that point," Luka Doncic said after torching Argentina with 48 points in a 118-100 win. He was asked about the potential of chasing Oscar Schmidt's 55-point record, but all he was replying was the "it doesn't matter, as long as we win" phrase.

When you know the story from above, you know that his words about caring only about the W are completely accurate. Doncic also had 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks, but don't get fooled thinking Slovenia are a Doncic team, with zero help from others.

Prepelic had 22 points, Vlatko Cancar scored 12, Mike Tobey picked up an 11-point, 14-rebound double-double, and Zoran Dragic goes into the history books as the man who scored the first Olympic points for Slovenia.

It’s not just about Luka’s domination or about winning vs Argentina in the first Olympic game (ever). It’s about HOW we play. Fast, agressive and efficient. So much fun to watch! Great start of the week. Let’s go 🇸🇮!!! https://t.co/9xXVL3jRNt

Along with the 22-year-old Doncic, we've also witnessed a pair of 41-year-olds proving they still belong on this stage. Luis Scola scored 23 points in 27 minutes for Argentina, who are still alive in this group but must chase the 18-point minus in their next two games to give themselves a better chance of making it to the Quarter-Finals.

Gasol came off the bench for the reigning world champs with effectiveness, scoring 9 points in just 13 minutes on the floor, helping Spain to an 88-77 win over the hosts, Japan. Tokyo Gasol proves a comeback is possible at 41, even after being sidelined for 14 long months.

"I've seen him all the time during the preparation camp, and very often throughout his whole process of coming back. I'm proud of him. He didn't have to do this. But that's who he is, a role model as a human being and an athlete," Marc Gasol was smiling when asked about his brother.

"I love the game. I wanted to finish my career playing, didn't want to end on an injury. It was a difficult and challenging injury. But (playing at the Olympics) was worth the effort and worth the risk," the elder Gasol said. "The pandemic actually helped me because if the Games weren't postponed I wouldn't have made it back from my injury in time to play in 2020." 

Spain did what they usually do in major events. They dominated without making too much noise, doing just enough to keep their opponent at bay. Japan showed massive signs of improvement compared to 2019 but improvement alone will not win them games in this loaded group with the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 finalists (Spain, Argentina), and the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 winners (Slovenia).

"I'm feeling much better about our team now than two years ago. We played a good game. But to beat a team like Spain, good is not enough, you need to be excellent," Japan head coach Julio Lamas said.

Argentina will be the next team to challenge Spain, while Japan have the unpleasant task of slowing down Slovenia. Game Day 2 promises to be equally as exciting as this one in Group C.

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Kendrick Perkins Criticizes Gregg Popovich's Coaching Style: "Kevin Durant Could Do The Same Luka Doncic Did But Y’all Mans Greg Pop Got Them Playing “System” Basketball."

Fadeaway World 26 July, 2021 - 02:07pm

The former center had something to say this morning after watching a masterpiece by Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic. The 22-year-old went off on Argentina, dropping 48 points (31 in the first half), 11 rebounds and 5 assists. 

KP really liked what Luka did but still claimed that Kevin Durant could have similar performances if Gregg Popovich stoped using 'system' basketball. 

“My God. The crazy thing is that Kevin Durant could do the same but y’all mans Greg Pop got them playing SYSTEM basketball. Truth hurts!!! Carry on…”

Durant finished the season opener with 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, raising a lot of eyebrows. 

Next game will face Team USA against Iran, trying to show something different in front of a rival that shouldn't give them any problems. Then again, like Patrick Ewing, the rest of the world caught up with the US, so they need to take this challenge very seriously. 

Kendrick Perkins Criticizes Gregg Popovich's Coaching Style: "Kevin Durant Could Do The Same Luka Doncic Did But Y’all Mans Greg Pop Got Them Playing “System” Basketball."

Reuters 26 July, 2021 - 02:07pm

The former center had something to say this morning after watching a masterpiece by Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic. The 22-year-old went off on Argentina, dropping 48 points (31 in the first half), 11 rebounds and 5 assists. 

KP really liked what Luka did but still claimed that Kevin Durant could have similar performances if Gregg Popovich stoped using 'system' basketball. 

“My God. The crazy thing is that Kevin Durant could do the same but y’all mans Greg Pop got them playing SYSTEM basketball. Truth hurts!!! Carry on…”

Durant finished the season opener with 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, raising a lot of eyebrows. 

Next game will face Team USA against Iran, trying to show something different in front of a rival that shouldn't give them any problems. Then again, like Patrick Ewing, the rest of the world caught up with the US, so they need to take this challenge very seriously. 

Dallas Mavericks: Jason Kidd on Luka Doncic, the offense, and more

The Smoking Cuban 26 July, 2021 - 02:03pm

Dallas Mavericks Jason Kidd Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks hired Jason Kidd to be the team’s head coach after Rick Carlisle resigned. The Hall of Fame point guard will look to help Luka Doncic and the Mavs take the next step. They have not won a playoff series since Kidd was the point guard on their title team in 2011. Now, it is Kidd’s job to change that.

The Mavericks have a superstar in Doncic. They must improve their supporting cast to take the next step. Adding a few veterans this summer could be key for Dallas, but can they make it happen?

Coach Kidd was on 105.3 The Fan’s G-Bag Nation on July 26 where he talked about Luka, the Mavs, and so much more. Let us take a closer look.

The hosts kicked the interview off by discussing Luka’s 48-point Olympic debut in a win over Argentina. Kidd gave the following reaction to the contest.

“That was a special game last night. What a great way to start your Olympic career with 48 points against a very good Argentina team.”

It was an incredible performance from the 22-year-old that had the entire world buzzing the next morning.

Kidd was asked about the Mavericks offense and if he planned to implement more cutting and off-ball movement like Slovenia does with Doncic. See his answer below.

“Well, I think both. When you look at the style, the Dallas Mavs have set records offensively with Luka, but when you are watching him play for his country, he is off the ball. You can see that the trust is extremely high with his teammates. You can see that his teammates are playing at a very high level for him. So, they do move. He is moving without the ball, but he is shooting the ball at a very high clip. He’s playing a high clip. I think his teammates are playing off him with that which is exciting to see.”

The Mavs need to get more off-ball movement and cutting. Expect Kidd to add it in next season.

The new head coach was also asked about what his involvement will be in personnel decisions. See his response below.

“I’ve tried to tell Mark (Cuban) and Nico (Harrison) that I just want to coach, and they told me that I have to be involved in the process. Sometimes, we want the keys to everything. I’ve learned my lesson from that. I really want to focus on coaching and becoming the best coach that I can, but if the process is where they ask me a question about a player, then I’ll give that input. Again, I am just happy to have that chance to be part of that process, but more or less focused on coaching.”

Coach Rick Carlisle had a significant say in the moves. Expect Kidd to get some of that responsibility, but the Mavericks will keep it collaborative.

The Hall of Fame point guard also commented on the Argentina claims of Luka being the best player in the world, the Hall of Famer’s Olympic experience, his coaching style, and so much more. It is a must-listen interview for all Dallas Mavericks fans.

It is going to be a massive week in the NBA with the draft and free agency right around the corner. Check back to The Smoking Cuban daily for all the latest on the Dallas Mavericks.

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Luka Doncic, Slovenia dominate Argentina in Olympic debut

Chris Smoove 26 July, 2021 - 11:20am

Luka was phenomenal. He had 48 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and six blocks. He did have six turnovers as he tried to put on a show once the game was largely out of reach. Slovenia outscored Argentina by 34 in the 31 minutes he played which means Slovenia was outscored by 16 in the nine minutes he didn’t. A large portion of that was garbage time at the end of the gam, however.

Luka’s 48 points were just seven shy of the Olympic record of 55 held by Oscar Schmidt. He quite possibly could have broken the record but he asked to be subbed out due to the game being out of reach. His three blocks were also impressive as he contributed on both ends.

Klemen Prepelic, Mike Tobey and Vlatko Cancar joined Luka in double figures with 22, 11 and 12 points respectively. Tobey also had 14 rebounds in 27 minutes before fouling out. Surprisingly, the sweet shooting Slovenian team did not shoot that well outside of Luka and Prepelic. Luka and Prepelic combined to shoot 10-of-20 from 3-point-range while the rest of the team managed only 6-of-23.

Looking forward, this win sets Slovenia up quite nicely for the rest of the group phase. Only two of the four teams (Slovenia, Argentina, Japan, Spain) in their group will advance to the quarterfinals. There was some concern that Slovenia might not be able to make it out of the group phase as Argentina and Spain are both world powers.

If Slovenia can beat Japan tomorrow as they should, they would put themselves in an even better position to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals. There are some unlikely scenarios where they could still lose in the group stage but it is incredibly difficult to believe that they will do so.

Any Olympic story is not complete without mentioning the struggles of Team USA. With their struggles, the Olympic tournament is much more open than in most years. Slovenia went to these games with a dream of a medal. Given team USA’s struggles it is not outside the realm of possibility that they should dream of Gold.

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