By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Slovenia competing in the Olympic Games basketball tournament for the first time ranked fourth. The fourth spot just shy of the podium practically means two defeats after entering the semifinals, which surely can’t be considered ideal, but fans stormed to the Ljubljana international airport to welcome Luka Doncic and his teammates on Sunday.
“I want to thank everyone for staying up at night to support us,” said Doncic, relays Slovenian outlet Siol.net, “We know you were with us. Without the fans there, it really was not the same.”
Doncic, 22, committed a full summer to the national team helping Slovenia advance through the Olympic Qualifying Tournament and then averaging 23.8 points, 9.7 assists, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per contest in Tokyo. The time difference with Japan forced Slovenian fans to unusual watching shifts.
It was still a crazy reception for the Slovenian national team traveling from Tokyo to the country’s capital via Munich. The greeting crowd packing flags and sporting Slovenia jerseys was in celebration mode as the national team players and staff arrived.
— Team Slovenia (@TeamSlovenia) August 8, 2021
“The worst part was after our last loss. We really wanted to win a medal,” confessed Doncic, “After a sleepless night, we came to terms with the fact that we achieved great success in our first Olympic Games.”
Slovenia swept Group C featuring Spain, Argentina, and host Japan, and also beat Germany in the quarterfinals, but lost to France in the semifinals and to Australia in the bronze medal affair.
The leading performances of Doncic earned him a spot in the best five of the tournament along with MVP Kevin Durant, Patty Mills, Rudy Gobert, and Ricky Rubio.