Mavericks’ Luka Doncic 48 points as Slovenia beat Argentina

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SAITAMA, Japan — Luka Doncic made his Olympic debut for Slovenia on Monday. It also made it memorable.

Doncic, who was selected as a two-time NBA All-Star with the Dallas Mavericks, scored 48 points in the first game of the men’s basketball group game for both teams, as Slovenia beat Argentina 118-100.

Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said: “He blew us away.

Doncic’s scoring tied him for the second most points in a game at the Olympics (Ed Palubinskas scored 48 points against Australia in 1976) and would likely break Brazil’s Oscar Schmidt’s one-game record of 55 points. 1988, if the game wasn’t so unstable.

With Slovenia leading by 26 points in the fourth quarter, Doncic took the bench as a gesture of kindness.

“I don’t care about records,” Doncic said. “We got a win and that’s what we’re here for.”

Doncic, 22, is one of the greats of the game – a year after finishing fourth, he placed sixth in voting for this season’s NBA Most Valuable Player Award – and has consistently gotten into the business of involving Slovenia in the global basketball conversation.

In late June, just weeks after the Mavericks closed their season in a first-round playoff defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers, Doncic traveled to Lithuania to join his Slovenian teammates for the Olympic qualifying tournament. Slovenia won all four games to earn their first Olympic berth, and Doncic dominated, averaging 21.3 points, 11.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds.

He scored 31 points before halftime on Monday and shot 18 of 29 points in total. He also had 11 rebounds and 5 assists, but Hernandez looked surprised when he looked at the penalty later: He could have sworn Doncic had finished with more assists. It was a cold comfort.

It’s worth noting that Argentina is pretty good at basketball: the team won silver at its most recent world championship in 2019 and gold at the 2004 Olympics. Hernandez threw a line of defenders at Doncic: some tall, some fast, some athletic. Turned them all into traffic cones.

“We tried everything we would try with a normal player, but he’s not a regular player,” said Hernandez. “He’s the best player in the world, including the NBA. He’s gone.”

“I totally agree,” said Slovenian coach Aleksander Sekulic when asked about this assessment.

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