When it was over, after all of Luka Doncic’s heroics had been tallied following his stunning performance for Slovenia in its FIBA EuroBasket win over France, one of his old NBA nemeses wanted more. That’s what ex-Jazz big man (now a Timberwolf) Rudy Gobert had to say after Doncic, the star of the Mavericks, dropped 47 points in a decisive win over Les Bleus to secure the top seed coming out of the tournament’s most competitive group.
Asked if he was tired of having to see Doncic, who helped eliminate Gobert’s Jazz in last year’s playoffs and has long had a beef against the Mavs and Doncic, Gobert smiled and said, “No, I hope to see him again.”
The win gave Slovenia a 4-1 record in group play as we head to the Round of 16, which begins this weekend. Doncic was sensational in getting Slovenia there, topping the 41 points scored by Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo this week for a tournament-high and putting forth the most points in a Eurobasket game since 1957.
Doncic was incredibly efficient in the game, going 16-for-23 shooting, including 6-for-11 from the 3-point line. He added seven rebounds and five assists in the game.
Luka Doncic’s Fallaway Shot Defined Big Day
If there was a shot that summarized Doncic’s night against France, it was his running/fall-away 3-pointer in the corner with 4:15 to play in the second quarter, which came with Gobert attempting to defend on the perimeter. As time ran off the shot clock, Doncic flipped a wild toss at the basket around an outstretched Gobert, who had taken Doncic in a switch, and knocked the shot in.
As SB Nation’s NBA site tweeted, “Luka Doncic made one of the wildest shots of his career in an iconic performance against France in EuroBasket.”
That could not have been easy for Gobert, who chafed in the past year over the way Doncic tends to rile up opponents, with the help of his Mavericks cohorts. In a high-profile game in March, won by the Mavs, Doncic and Gobert repeatedly exchanged heated words.
At the time, Gobert explained: “[Doncic] whispered something in my ear and tried to bait me into getting mad. But I knew what he was trying to do. I just tried to run back on offense, but he got in my way. It’s also part of the game.”
Gobert Complimented Doncic Postgame
Gobert did not let bad blood interfere with appreciation for the way Doncic played on Wednesday, even if Gobert did have a very impressive late-game poster dunk over Doncic. Slovenia got the win and the group’s top slot, which puts them in line to play Belgium on Saturday.
“He is able to play the game like probably few people in the history of the game have been able to do it,” Gobert said. “We try to not give him everything, make sure he is not able to make other people better around him and score, and try to make him work defensively. Tonight, he had a good night … He made some shots that were really tough, you have to tip your hat off when he makes those shots. But it was a tie game with two minutes left.”
Gobert does have good reason for wanting to see Doncic again in this tournament. Because they are in separate brackets, the only way France and Slovenia can face each other next week is if both reach the tournament final.