Luka Doncic, late run push Slovenia past Belgium

2022-09-10T16:40:14+00:00 2022-09-10T18:25:27+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

10/Sep/22 16:40

Belgium started to get quite threatening but Luka Doncic couldn’t be denied

By Eurohoops team/

Luka Doncic scored a game-high 35 points and Slovenia used a 19 – 1 run in the fourth period to outlast a quite competitive, for 31 minutes, Belgian team 88 – 72 and advance to the quarterfinals of the 2022 EuroBasket.

Belgium was up 64 – 63 with nine minutes to play and the possibility of a major upset vs. the defending champions was quite real. Doncic took over with five straight points and then Goran Dragic scored in transition to put Slovenia ahead 70 – 65.

After single-handedly carrying Slovenia for the majority of the game, Doncic found some assistance with Klemen Prepelic draining the triple and Vlatko Cancar delivering on both ends for the 75 – 65. Prepelic hit another one from beyond the arc to make it 78 – 65.

“We knew it was going to be a hard game, we were fighting until the end, and we had a great turnaround in the fourth quarter”, said Doncic after the game. “I don’t believe it was an easy game as people may have said, they are playing good and physical”. 

The Belgian players were missing some solid opportunities to score, either via layups or jumpers, and began falling way behind. With four minutes remaining, Kevin Tumba elbowed Doncic twice in the same defensive play and he was called for an unsportsmanlike foul that led to four points on the other end as Slovenia took a very safe 82 – 65 advantage with four minutes on the clock. For all its fighting spirit, Belgium couldn’t hope to come back from that margin.

“We made some adjustments in the second half, especially in defense and they also missed some open shots”, admitted Slovenia coach Aleksander Sekulic.

Emmanuel Lecomte (16 points) and Pierre-Antoine Gillet (15 points, 10 rebounds) scored in double figures from Belgium. Their team had erased a 10-point deficit (37 – 27) in the first half to approach 42 – 41 near halftime. When Slovenia tried to build another double-digit advantage, coach Dario Gjergja’s players once again came back to approach by one possession until they took the lead at the beginning fourth period.

They didn’t manage to keep it since Doncic and Slovenia were simply too much. “I’m very, very proud of my guys. They deserve much better. We even took the lead. But two mistakes punished us on the other side,” said Belgium coach Dario Gjergja in the press conference.

He also didn’t hide his opinion about the refs having a different attitude against a superstar like Doncic: “In the past few weeks, I listened a lot about equality. But equality doesn’t exist in basketball. “I’ve been listening about 50/50 for the last two months. Everything will be fair and the same for everybody. But that’s not. Let’s stop lying to each other”.

Prepelic finished with 13 points, Mike Tobey had 12 points and six rebounds while Goran Dragic dropped 12 points for Slovenia, which will face the winner of Ukraine – Poland in the quarterfinals.