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MANILA, Philippines – It is safe to say Luka Doncic is ready for the FIBA World Cup.
Doncic posted another triple-double as Slovenia notched a 104-100 win over Montenegro on Wednesday, August 9, in preparation for the global hoops showdown to be co-hosted by the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia.
Coming off a stellar season with the Dallas Mavericks that saw him average a career-high 32.4 points on top of 8.6 rebounds and 8 assists, Doncic delivered 34 points, 14 assists, and 13 rebounds against Montenegro.
He came through down the stretch, draining the go-ahead triple with under 40 seconds remaining that broke a 97-97 deadlock and propelled Slovenia to victory.
It has been an impressive World Cup buildup for Doncic, who seeks to go all the way with Slovenia this time after they settled for fourth place in the Tokyo Olympics.
Doncic also notched a triple-double of 21 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds against Greece, albeit in a 98-91 loss last August 2.
The four-time NBA All-First Team member is one of the biggest draws in a World Cup devoid of star power, with several of the top NBA talents set to miss the tournament.
Serbia’s Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) and France’s Victor Wembanyama (San Antonio Spurs) have been ruled out, while Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) is uncertain to play as he recovers from a knee surgery.
Meanwhile, Team USA parades a new-look lineup that is missing the likes of stars Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, and Jayson Tatum, who powered the squad to the Olympic gold in Tokyo.
Doncic and Slovenia will start their World Cup campaign in Okinawa, Japan as they battle Georgia, Venezuela, and Cape Verde in Group F.
Filipino fans who want to catch a glimpse of Doncic can only hope for Slovenia to reach the quarterfinals, with the Philippines hosting the entire final phase.
Doncic will have his mettle tested as Slovenia battles Team USA in another exhibition game in Malaga, Spain on Saturday, August 12. – Rappler.com