5 things Mavs fans should know about Luka Doncic’s Slovenian side to prepare for the Olympic rounds


TOKYO – Need a crash course in Slovenian basketball now that Luka Doncic and his national team are in the semi-finals of the Olympics?

Look no further, Mavericks fans.

Whether you’ve been lying awake at all hours watching Doncic and Slovenia go past Argentina, Japan, Spain and Germany so far or trying to get on board with a possible medal match. ‘gold between the US and Slovenia, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s a look at the squad lineup, Doncic’s role, and Slovenia’s highlights since the country’s first Olympic basketball tournament began.

Click here for how to watch Slovenia’s semi-final against France on Thursday and the medal game against the United States or Australia on Saturday.

Doncic wins in different ways

The Mavericks All-Star started off with a dominant scoring display, totaling 48 points against Argentina, the second-highest ever in an Olympic game.

Opponents then responded with defensive schemes, such as traps and zones, designed to force Doncic to give up the ball.

The strategies seemed wise – until they also turned against them.

While averaging an Olympic record of 26.25 points in four games, Doncic also recorded eight assists and 10 rebounds, both of which are second among all players. It wasn’t long before he found teammates when he drew additional defensive attention.

Much like teams in the NBA, opponents from Slovenia struggle to slow down Doncic’s total control, and his teammates say they’re better at it.

“When he plays he takes like three guys who have to keep him,” Zoran Dragic said, “It’s easy for us.”

New pick-and-roll partner

Slovenia center Mike Tobey tried to stay away from social media during this Olympic run, but he still saw posts from new fans in Dallas, who would like the Mavericks’ new braintrust to give Tobey a peek during the off-season.

Tobey’s background does not match the experience and talent of Kristaps Porzingis and other Mavericks contributors. He grew up in New Jersey, was not drafted in 2016 in Virginia, and appeared in two NBA preseason games for the Hornets before continuing his career overseas.

But he and Doncic have gotten used to playing together to space the floor for Slovenia’s quick offense. Tobey leads the Olympics in average rebounds (12.5).

The national team helped Tobey achieve dual citizenship ahead of Olympic qualifying, and he first visited Slovenia when he arrived for the team’s training camp in June.

“When you hear [of] an opportunity to play with one of the best players in the world, you don’t say no, ”said Tobey. “I’m kind of trying to get out of his way and put myself in the right position, so I’m giving him all the credit. When he has the ball, he sees everyone. He knows where I’m supposed to be before I even go sometimes.

Who else to know?

Five Slovenian players had double-digit average scores in the group stage: Doncic (28.3 points), Vlatko Cancar (16.7), Klemen Prepelic (16.3), Dragic (12.3) and Tobey (11 ).

Cancar, a reserve forward with the Nuggets, is the only one with Doncic to play in the NBA.

Dragic, brother of Goran, a potential Mavericks’ offseason target, has known Doncic since Dragic was teammate with Doncic’s dad Sasa on KD Slovan, and Doncic, 7, was shooting hoops at halftime.

One reserve to watch out for: Luka Rupnik is Doncic’s roommate at the Olympic Village and one of the childhood friends that Doncic was particularly looking forward to playing with this summer.

“He’s always up for some jokes and some fun,” Rupnik said. “Everything about him is fun, except when you lose to him in some games.”

Offensive leaders

Remember when Doncic powered the Mavericks’ historically effective offense in the 2019-20 NBA season?

He will lead Slovenia in the same direction this summer.

Slovenia are averaging an Olympic record 105.75 points per game. The United States is the only other team to exceed 100 points in a single game this tournament.

Slovenia push the ball in transition to maximize their possessions in each game and crash hard into the boards for the missed shots. The team has the most total rebounds (51) and offensive rebounds (14.75) per game with significant margins.

Remember: International basketball games have four 10-minute quarters, making competitions eight minutes shorter than in the NBA.

Slovenia loves to have fun. Many.

Quarantine measures in the midst of the pandemic limited all Olympic participants to their living quarters and arenas, but this was not a problem for Slovenia.

Doncic developed a ping-pong rivalry with Jaka Blazic in the village – and dragged him into interviews for losing – and participated in daily team meals.

The group also caused a sensation in international media after a Spanish basketball player posted – then deleted – videos that appeared to show the Slovenian team drinking and playing poker in the village, a rally who would have been against the pandemic restrictions.

The enjoyment of Doncic and his teammates in their first Olympics reflects the euphoria at home. After the quarter-final victory over Germany, a reporter from the Slovenian newspaper “Ekipa” said website traffic – even at 5 a.m. – was more than double the usual measures.

All of Doncic’s national team jerseys are sold out and fans back home – and Dallas – are crying out for more.

“We have the best fans in the world for sure,” said Slovenian coach Aleksander Sekulic. “Really proud that we could be a part of this story, and I know that if it weren’t for a pandemic, I know we would have incredible support in the stands. “


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