By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
You might say that it was a long time coming for Luka Doncic. He had been close numerous times before but for one reason (usually because he didn’t spend an adequate time on the floor) or another, he hadn’t managed to accomplish it so far.
In the 104 – 89 victory of Real Madrid over Real Betis for the Spanish League, the 19-year-old Slovenian wunderkind scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 10 assists for a career-high 42 in PIR (Performance Index Rating) in just 22:33 minutes, to notch his first career triple-double.
Doncic already had 15 points, eight assists, and six rebounds in 17 minutes before entering the game for the last stretch (almost five minutes) of the fourth period. He proceeded to collect the boards he needed and dish the dimes required for this truly outstanding achievement, that is extremely rare in European basketball.
How rare exactly? Well, let’s say that triple-doubles are an incredibly scarce phenomenon to see in Europe and a thing that becomes even more difficult to find in the highest levels of basketball. The reasons for this are plenty and have to do mainly with the fact that matches last 40 minutes, that teams often implement low-tempo offenses and that the pace of the game is generally much slower-moving in comparison with the NBA, something which automatically reduces the number of possessions.
Also, and that’s key, in Europe, passes aren’t counted in the stats as assists as easily as in the NBA where a player can make three, four, five dribbles, take a walk for a hot dog if he wants after he receives the ball from his teammate and before scoring the basket. In Europe, usually, a pass isn’t considered an assist if the receiver of the ball takes more than two dribbles before sending it through the hoop.
To put things into context only Croatian center Nikola Vujcic has ever registered a triple-double in EuroLeague (post-2000), the top-tier competition in the continent. He did it twice in his career, but he remains the single player to do so.
When it comes to Spain, Doncic’s triple-double is just the seventh in the history of the ACB and the first in 11 years, following Spanish center Fran Vasquez’s (12 blocks, 11 points, 10 rebounds) in a 65 – 58 road win of Barcelona over Valladolid in 2006-2007.
It goes without saying that Doncic also became the youngest player who has ever recorded a triple-double in ACB.
So yes. When any player posts a triple-double in Europe, especially in a highly competitive championship, it’s basically “breaking news”. Even moreso when it happens by a… 19-year-old.
Then again Luka Doncic isn’t your usual player of this age. And neither is this triple-double a confirmation of anything we weren’t already aware of regarding the sheer diversity of his skillset and the plethoric manner in which he influences his team’s game. As mentioned before, the only reason why it took him that long to post a triple-double is that he didn’t receive many minutes in the other games he flirted with one.
And Doncic didn’t even need that extra time tonight actually since he achieved this monumental feat in a bit more than 22 minutes. Special.