Luka Doncic leads Slovenia against Italy in FIBA World Cup ranking duel

Luka Doncic repays his fans with a FIBA World Cup win in Manila (FIBA)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Despite missing the chance of a FIBA World Cup title contention, Dallas Mavericks franchise player Luka Doncic still played his heart out and helped Slovenia close out their final campaign with a win over Italy, 89-85, last September 9, 2023, held at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Doncic capped off his global hoops game campaign with a near triple-double performance, dropping an impressive 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, and three steals.

Slovenia ran almost everything from Doncic, letting him set the tone with his high IQ passing while reading the Italy offense to provide the necessary adjustments in the second quarter.

Doncic then paid the trust of his coaching staff after turning it up in the second frame while involving his teammates with his pick-and-roll reads and high-low post feeds to his big men.

Slovenia led by as much as 15 points and was poised to cruise past Italy without a sweat but soon as the final quarter whistled, the complexion of the game surprisingly changed that caused total silence inside the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Italians showed fight and resiliency as they only held Slovenia to just eight points in five minutes while completing the comeback when they trimmed their deficit to just a deuce.

Italy even retook the lead which frustrated the Slovenians, taking a slim two-point advantage with only two minutes left in the ball game.

However, just when the Italians thought they could snowball their way into the classification clash, Doncic carried his squad and made the game-winning play after skipping a pass to Jakob Cebasek who drained a clutch three-pointer for an 86-85 lead.

Italy failed to answer back offensively which led to them fouling Slovenia that played the free-throw game in the last 30 seconds.

Mike Tobey backstopped Doncic with another solid performance down the block, scoring 12 markers while Zoran Dragic chipped in 10 points and four rebounds.