Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

Luka Doncic is, maybe, a difficult person, they said. It's not clear how many people will be excited to play with Luka, they said. Before starting the Olympic mission, Luka put all that NBA noise behind the Slovenia National Team camp doors.

There were at least eleven basketball players, specifically from Slovenia, who were very excited to share the floor with Luka Doncic. And playing with Luka didn't seem to be that difficult, neither was getting the ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Luka Doncic, once again, emerged as a true leader, orchestrating Slovenia National Team to all four wins in Lithuania, including a hard-fought victory against the host team with two-time NBA-All Star Domantas Sabonis and Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas in the final.

Luka was the most efficient player (31.5 EFF) of all four Olympic Qualifying tournaments hosted in Kaunas, Split, Victoria, and Belgrade.

Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich summarised it just perfectly: "He’s spectacular and one of the best players in the world. I want to emphasize ‘in the world.'"

We never had doubts about Luka's greatness on the court. And we could all witness it one more time after he collected a triple-double (31-11-13), his first-ever for the National Team, in a decisive game against Lithuania. But Luka's leadership was questioned outside Europe after dramatic season-ending for the Dallas Mavericks.

All the doubters should have visited the Park Inn by Radisson hotel in Kaunas last week.

At first, they would have heard Slovenian songs, which were all over the floor corridor, where only Slovenian National Team members stayed. People from the hotel joked that the Slovenian floor was by far the loudest one.

Since the COVID-19 protocol didn't allow them to go outside the arena or the hotel, Slovenians spent their free time mostly playing cards from morning to evening.

Luka Doncic

Luka  Doncic
Luka  Doncic
MIN: 25.47
PTS: 21.25 (58.23%)
REB: 8
As: 11.25
ST: 1.5
BL: 0
TO: 2.25
GM: 4

Luka was in the middle of these games, just like on the court. But he never looked down on them or tried to show everybody that he was the most important guy in this group. All the players were equal, and Luka showed leadership with joy and ease. 

"For him, it's most important to make his players better. He will assist. If nobody can make a field goal, then he'll take the ball. But I see the same outside the court. They're always together, just like friends, going out together. People around him feel good in his company. And that's good leadership," Sasa Doncic, a father of Luka, told BasketNews.

Slovenian National Team averaged 106 points per game, beating the opponents by an average of 33.5 points. All four wins were in double digits.

Slovenia was not only the highest-scoring team of all Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. They were also the first in assists (26.8) and the first in 3-point field goal percentage (46.8), making 15 treys per game.

Fast tempo basketball with a great ball movement, which usually ended up with 3-pointers, very active defense with unstoppable fast breaks made Slovenians the Golden State Warriors of FIBA basketball.

Mike Tobey (15 PPG, 7.5 RPG) became a perfect pick and roll partner for Luka, catching lobs or popping for 3-pointers. Zoran Dragic (12 PPG) brought some experience as the oldest player on the roster (32). Vlatko Cancar (11.8 PPG, 52.2% 3FG), who averaged only 7 minutes in Denver last season, destroyed Lithuanian hopes with 4 threes and 18 points in the final game. Jaka Blazic (9.5 PPG) and Klemen Prepelic (8 PPG) punished the defense every time Luka draw defensive help.

This charming and easy-going team fits Luka just perfectly.

"I’m proud of these guys. They've just played amazing. They played together, they fought together, they got through tough times together," coach Aleksander Sekulic said after a final. "We have Luka on a team, and everything looks easier. He’s making players good and better than they are. Also, me, myself."

"Our team chemistry is something unrealistic. We‘re like brothers together," Prepelic was all smiling after historical achievement. "We were asked if this interrupts our vacations... It‘s not true. We‘re like a family, and we‘re enjoying every single moment of being together."

Luka and his friends are making history for Slovenian basketball. Four years ago, they became the first Slovenian sports team to win a big International sports competition, as they were crowned as EuroBasket 2017 champions. Now they are going to the Olympic games for the first time as well. With Luka's magic, more unprecedented things might happen in Tokyo.

When Doncic received the MVP of OQT in Kaunas award from Arvydas Sabonis' hands, his teammates ran at their playmaker and started throwing him in the air.

That's not how you imagine 'a difficult' or 'not exciting to play with' person at all.

"We have the best player in the world," Prepelic said. "Luka is amazing, and he just proved it once again. Without him, it wouldn‘t be possible. We have to thank him and also big thanks to the coaching staff. Coach Sekulic grabbed his chance with two hands and proved that he could be a big coach."

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Luka Doncic

Luka  Doncic
Team: Dallas Mavericks
Slovenia
Position: SG
Age: 22
Height: 201 cm
Weight: 99 kg
Birth place: Slovenia