By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
MANILA, Philippines – It was just a classification game for most, but the clash between Slovenia and Italy will always be remembered, not because of the result.
This was the last career game of one of the Italian basketball greats, as Gigi Datome called it a day, as he had announced long before the tournament. He registered one point and two rebounds lasting just over ten minutes, before the standing ovation in recognition of his achievements.
“It was one of the many joys that I received this summer,” he described teammates, opponents, and fans celebrating his career during his final showing.
The 2016 EuroLeague champion, three-time Turkish league champion, and three-time Italian league champion who has played in the NBA with the Pistons and the Celtics decided to retire at 35 years of age and did it playing against Luka Doncic.
“As a captain, I am proud of this team, for what we did,” mentioned Datome on the Azzurri this summer, “I think we showed we can compete at the highest level.”
The game itself was played at a somehow relaxed pace with the halftime score being 42-41 in favor of Slovenia behind 12 points by Doncic.
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With no real motivation for the two teams outside of pride and Doncic being active and scoring four straight points in the second half, Slovenia got a 49-41 advantage after a three by Gregor Hrovat.
Eventually building a 15-point advantage, Slovenia surrendered the lead before claiming a slim win, 89-85, to settle in the seventh spot of the final rankings of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Masterminding victory in the Mall of Asia Arena, Doncic posted a 29-point, 10-rebound double-double and recorded his eighth assist on Jakob Cebasek sinking a clutch three-point to restore a four-point lead with 40 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Consequently, he fell narrowly shy of the first triple-double in tournament history.
On the losing end, Marco Spissu produced a team-high 22 points to go with four assists and three rebounds. Simone Fontecchio went for 16 points behind 6/15 field goals.
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL