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MANILA, Philippines – Slovenia head coach Aleksander Sekulic defended Luka Doncic for his penchant for complaining after the star guard got ejected in a loss that cost them a historic semifinal berth in the FIBA World Cup.
Sekulic said it is hard to guard Doncic in a “legal way” as the Dallas Mavericks hotshot bore the brunt of a suffocating defense employed by Canada in its 100-89 ouster of Slovenia on Wednesday, September 6.
Exasperated by what he felt were missed calls on a great number of his shots, a furious Doncic incurred two technical fouls for continuous complaining and got tossed out with over six minutes left.
“He has the ball a lot in his hands and it’s frustrating for Luka. You get tired from this. It’s very difficult. That’s why the emotions come out,” said Sekulic.
“I know it’s not great, it doesn’t look good, but it’s very, very difficult. It’s what makes Luka so special because he’s a great player. It’s tough to guard him in a legal way.”
Canada made sure not to give Doncic enough breathing room for him to find his rhythm, with Houston Rockets forward Dillon Brooks – a member of the NBA All-Defensive Team – picking him up full court.
Lu Dort, a stocky lockdown defender for the Oklahoma City Thunder, also took his turn making life miserable for Doncic when Brooks got the boot early in the fourth quarter for taunting.
Although Doncic still finished with a team-high 26 points and shot 4-of-6 from long distance, his two-point clip showed Canada pulled out all the stops to prevent him from attacking the basket.
Doncic made just 4 of his 14 attempts from inside the arc for a lowly 28.6%, nearly half of his 55.2% average from the two-point area in this World Cup.
“It’s difficult to play a game, you get hit constantly all game long, it’s difficult to control the emotions. We work a lot on this but it’s very difficult,” said Sekulic.
Sekulic, though, conceded that Canada – featuring seven NBA players led by Thunder ace Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – simply lived up to its billing as a title favorite and a potential threat to the United States’ redemption bid.
“Canada have a hell of a team. They can play different lineups, with small ball, with two bigs, they have big guards, strong guards. They have everything they need to go all the way,” said Sekulic.
Doncic will once again be the focal point of defense against Lithuania on Thursday, September 7, as Slovenia plays two more classification games for a chance to finish at fifth place. – Rappler.com