By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
After playing in the Olympic Games and two editions of EuroBasket, including the groundbreaking run to the gold medals in 2017, Luka Doncic representing Slovenia expanded to the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Doncic, 24, led the national team of his country to the win against Venezuela on Gameday 1 of Group F. Up next is Georgia on Monday. Wrapping up the first round, his side will face Cape Verde, headed by his former Real Madrid teammate Walter Tavares.
“We spent a lot of time together when I was in Madrid. Great guy and amazing player,” he referred to Tavares in the postgame press conference following his 37-point effort against Venezuela Saturday, “I think he is the most impactful player in EuroLeague.”
Tavares, 31, was named MVP of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four held in Kaunas last May. Earlier in his career, the towering center logged 13 games played in the NBA between the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers, before returning to Europe and landing in Madrid in 2017.
“It is going to be special to play against him. I never played against him. It is going to be very tough,” added Doncic on the reunion set for Gameday 3 action in Okinawa Arena, “I am looking forward to playing against him.”
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Back in 2018, the combination of the Slovenian sensation with the Cape Verdean center pushed Real Madrid to the EuroLeague championship.
Bouncing back from the early ending to the Dallas Mavericks campaign
Besides debuting in the World Cup, Doncic finally returned to action on Saturday in Japan. He last played in early April, since the Dallas Mavericks missed the cut for the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
“There is no difference,” he replied on the premature conclusion of the NBA campaign possibly adding more focus to international duties, “Every time I can play for the national team, I will play. Representing your country, you are always motivated, no matter what happens in the season. Obviously, it was disappointing that we could not make the Playoffs, but playing for your country is special. It is from the heart. And representing your country, it is amazing.”
The 24-year-old superstar of the Mavericks tallied 32.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game over 66 appearances in the 2022-23 NBA Regular Season.
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL