Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

The announcer of Zalgirio arena was kindly reminding fans not to touch the players due to the COVID-19 risks. But there was no protection for the Polish National Team which could prevent them from being crushed by a Slovenian machine with Luka Doncic behind its wheel 77-112.

The start of the game was exciting. Both teams were loudly supported by their fans, creating the best atmosphere of this tournament so far. Polish NT had a promising start with 6 threes in the first quarter. Still, it was not enough to keep pace with Slovenians.

The players of coach Aleksander Sekulic scored over 60 points in the first half again and cruised to another blowout win.

24 hours ago, they left no chance to Angola 118:68. This time it was a one-sided game versus a much stronger opponent.

"Give them credit. It’s more than just Luka Doncic on that team," Polish NT head coach Mike Taylor admitted.

Luka Doncic had 18 points (6/12 FGs), 6 rebounds, and 10 assists in 22 minutes. Klemen Prepelic added 17 points, Gregor Hrovat scored 16. In total, six players scored in double digits, and eight guys had their efficiency index higher than 10.

For the second game in a row, Slovenians made 18 threes. They also grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, converting them to 14 second-chance points. 

"They played with great energy. Defensive pressure and their activity were great. Their tempo in transition was outstanding. I felt great about the start of the game. We put ourselves in a position where we wanted to be in. But as the game went on, fast-break opportunities for Slovenia made a big difference. And then I think their physical defensive pressure took us out some of the things we wanted to do offensively. And obviously, the big factor of the game was what they did on the boards – they outrebounded us 44 to 27," coach Taylor said in the press conference after a difficult loss.

Points this season

56%
115,0
Points made: 115,0
Accuracy: 55,6%
Place in standings: 1
Record max: 118
Record min: 112
Best scorer: Klemen Prepelic

He agrees that Luka Doncic's magic is behind this spectacular performance we witness in Kaunas. But Taylor wanted to make sure everybody has to respect the rest of the guys.

"From my standpoint, it’s really easy to look at how great player Doncic is. But he takes the pressure off the rest of the team. He gives them confidence. Doncic can get an easy basket, one on one basket. He provides many different match-up problems on the perimeter, pick-and-roll, and the post. They create advantages through him. But let’s give the rest of these guys credit.

There are many good players on that team. We got a lot of respect for them. You look at the shooter like Prepelic. You look at really experienced players like Dragic and Blazic. And they were committed today not only to play on the offensive end, but they really worked defensively. They had a very good performance. Let's respect the team. Not only just Luka Doncic and the brilliant player like he is but also a really great team that Slovenia is."

Slovenia NT easily won Group B and is waiting for what the future will bring to them in the semifinals. The fans of the host team Lithuania are already in fear about the potential match-up against such basketball power.

“I’m very happy and very pleased," Slovenia head coach Sekulic said. "Especially when I see guys playing and fighting together. For us coaches, it’s really a joy watching them on the court. And it’s easier coaching them.

I’m very proud of how we played these two games. Like I said to them today, I will repeat that we have an excellent group of guys playing together, unselfish basketball. With this kind of mentality, we can be looking at the future with a big optimism.”

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Luka Doncic

Luka  Doncic
Luka  Doncic
MIN: 19.29
PTS: 15.5 (55.17%)
REB: 6
As: 9.5
ST: 2.5
BL: 0
TO: 1.5
GM: 2