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Luka Doncic Orchestrates Slovenia's Offense in a Clinical Victory Over Venezuela

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic scored a game-high 37 points. His impressive all-around effort included seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.

OKINAWA CITY ― Luka Doncic was the final player's name to be called out during the pregame introductions.

And during the Slovenia-Venezuela game on Saturday night, August 26, Doncic's name was blurted out the most times by the public-address announcer. Doncic was the hub of Slovenia's offense in a 100-85 win in a FIBA Basketball World Cup Group F match at Okinawa Arena. 

The Dallas Mavericks superstar scored a game-high 37 points on 11-for-18 shooting and sank 13 of 16 free-throw attempts. His stellar all-around performance included seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. It was the type of performance basketball fans have come to expect from Doncic whenever and wherever he plays a game.

A four-time All-Star in his five NBA seasons, Doncic averaged 32.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.0 assists in 2022-23 for the Mavericks.

Midway through the first quarter, it was evident that Doncic was in a comfortable rhythm on offense ― eager to be the primary scorer and focused on distributing the ball to his teammates. 

Doncic's step-back 3-pointer gave Slovenia a 21-14 lead with 5:11 left in the opening stanza. He completed the play with a smooth delivery that underscored years of excellence on the court and steady growth as a player.

Doncic had 14 first-quarter points, but it wasn't enough to give Slovenia a big edge. Venezuela's David Cubillan sank a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the period to give his team a 33-31 lead entering the second quarter.

Luka Doncic scores a basket against Venezuela. (Issei Kato/REUTERS)

Stepping Up in the Second Quarter

With Doncic igniting the offense, Slovenia elevated its play in the second quarter.

By halftime, Doncic had 24 points to help lead Slovenia to a 56-51 advantage. As avid and casual basketball observers have witnessed for years, Doncic delivered another performance that made the complex game look nearly as easy as walking and chewing gum at the same time.

Doncic said he wasn’t surprised Venezuela posed a challenge for his team, recalling a pre-Olympic qualifier in June 2021 in Lithuania, where Slovenia defeated Venezuela 98-70. That was a game in which Venezuela’s toughness, physicality and quality shooters were on display, according to Doncic.

"It wasn't an easy game," Doncic said of Saturday’s encounter. "We had to fight 'til the end, and in the end, we got a win." 

Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic converted 13 of 16 free-throw attempts. (Issei Kato/REUTERS)

Led by Luka Doncic, Slovenia Pulls Away in the Second Half

Doncic added nine points in the third quarter as Slovenia increased its lead to 73-58 entering the final period.

The dynamic 24-year-old playmaker was the catalyst for the victors, but American-born big man Mike Tobey also shined for Slovenia, scoring 21 points on a perfect shooting night (9-for-9, including 3-for-3 on 3-point attempts). Klemen Prepelic finished with 18 points.

Slovenia's Mike Tobey dunks against Venezuela. (FIBA.BASKETBALL)

Venezuela coach Fernando Duro said his team didn’t have an answer to shut down red-hot shooters Doncic and Tobey.

"We followed a great deal our game plan," Duro told a news conference. "Still, Doncic scored ― he basically scores against the whole world. And, Mike Tobey was 100 percent from the field, scoring 3-for-3 from behind the arc. We chose our options and we followed the game plan [and] we executed well. But in order to win this kind of ball game, you need to execute in an excellent way. We couldn't." 

Slovenia dominated in the paint on both ends of the floor, including a 38-23 rebounding advantage. Doncic and his teammates also had a brilliant shooting performance from inside the 3-point arc, flushing 22 of 28 attempts, which contributed to its 44-22 edge in points in the paint.

Small forward Garly Sojo paced Venezuela with 16 points, while Heissler Guillent and Jhornan Zamora added 12 apiece.

Georgia's Tornike Shengelia passes the ball in a Group F game against Cape Verde on August 26. (FIBA.BASKETBALL)

It's just a shoe!

Georgia Trounces Cape Verde

Cape Verde and Georgia both appeared in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game for the first time on Saturday, August 26.

Therefore, one team would emerge with a victory in its tournament debut.

Georgia pulled it off with a dynamic one-two effort from NBA players Tornike Shengelia (16 points, seven rebounds) and Goga Bitadze (15 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals) en route to an 85-60 triumph in a Group F clash at Okinawa Arena.

Leading 20-11 after one quarter, Georgia extended its advantage to 48-22 by halftime.

Cape Verde, the smallest nation to ever secure a spot in the Basketball World Cup (previously Montenegro held that distinction), faced a 57-27 deficit entering the fourth quarter. Kenneti Mendes led Cape Verde, an island nation off Africa's west coast near Senegal with a population of about 560,000 in the 2021 census, with 11 points and Keven Gomes had 10.

"I will say that this is a historical moment for Georgian basketball," Georgia head coach Ilias Zouros said. "It's our first win in the world championship, first appearance. We are very happy, we are very satisfied. But we have to move on. This is only the first game of the tournament. 

"We have in front of us Slovenia after today, we have to be focused. [And] we need to start the work for that game." 

Georgia faces Slovenia at Okinawa Arena on Monday, August 28 at 8:30 PM JST.

Basketball World Cup Notes

Point guard Dwight Ramos, who is entering his second season with the B.League's Levanga Hokkaido in October, had 13 points, six rebounds and two assists in the Philippines' 87-81 Group A defeat to the Dominican Republic on Friday in Manila. …

Did you know? There are 55 NBA players, including 10 former All-Stars, representing 20 countries at the Basketball World Cup. This total breaks the record of 54 NBA players from 17 countries in the 2019 Basketball World Cup, according to a FIBA news release.


Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.


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