By Antonis Stroggylakis / AStroggylakis@eurohoops.net
Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic confirmed that he will be joining the Slovenian national team in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament that will be held in Kaunas, Lithuania (29/6 – 4/7).
“That’s my next goal: Qualify Slovenia to the Olympics,” Doncic said during his 2020-21 exit interview, per Callie Caplan. “Going to be heading back to Slovenia to start practicing, so no vacation.” The NBA season finished for Doncic and the Mavericks Sunday (6/6) with the loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7. The 22-year-old two-time All-Star had a historically outstanding individual run in the series with 35.7 points, 10.9 assists and 7.9 rebounds.
Slovenia and Doncic will face Poland and Angola in the first round of the tournament and compete for the two spots that lead to the semifinals and matchups against the best two teams out of Lithuania, Venezuela and South Korea. Only the winner of the tournament gets to the Olympic Games.
Doncic last played for Slovenia four years ago in the 2017 EuroBasket. At 18 years of age back then, Doncic averaged 14.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists while he and Goran Dragic led their national team to the gold medal for the first time in the country’s history. They were both named to the All-Tournament Team.
During his rookie season with the Mavericks, Doncic expressed his frustration with Slovenia’s elimination in the World Cup Qualifiers and being unable to help his team advance to the competition. He will now have his chance to potentially lead Slovenia to the Olympics for the first time ever.
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