Since guiding his Dallas Mavericks to their first Western Conference Finals trip since 2011 in May, Luka Doncic has hardly seemed to take a hiatus from organized basketball games. Between EuroBasket qualifiers and the tournament itself, Doncic has extended his blazing spring to a blazing summer and soon-to-be fall.
On Wednesday evening, he and his native Slovenia squared off against France. These are two of the premier national teams in Europe. Slovenia is the reigning EuroBasket champion, while France just finished runner-up at the 2021 Olympics last summer. En route to that silver medal, France knocked off Slovenia, 90-89, in a thrilling semifinals matchup.
Doncic and Slovenia exacted some revenge Wednesday, defeating France, 88-82, in group play. Leading Slovenia’s efforts was Doncic, who poured in a 21st-century EuroBasket record with 47 points. He scored 22 in the first 12 minutes, had 27 at halftime and entered the final frame already with 37. His 47 points marked the most over the past 65 years of EuroBasket history and are the second-most all-time.
The usual Luka Magic was in full effect, but he somehow outdid his typical theatrics with this patently absurd bucket.
To be clear, that is a three-point floater over the outstretched arms of 7’1 Rudy Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and one of the greatest defenders of the generation. Doncic’s touch is foolishly splendid.
Later, Doncic continued his dazzling shot-making, despite Gobert’s best efforts, with a classic stepback triple.
Although Gobert didn’t match Doncic’s 47, he did notch 19 points on 9-for-10 shooting, eight rebounds, one assist and a thunderous slam over Doncic.
The irony in Doncic’s historic performance is a day earlier, when Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 41 points in Greece’s 99-79 win over Germany, Doncic said he’d bet on Antetokounmpo to set the EuroBasket scoring record. At the time, Antetkounmpo’s 41 points were the most in a EuroBasket game since Dirk Nowitzki’s 43 in 2001.
Through five games, Slovenia sits atop Group B with nine points and France is second with eight points. They’ll both be advancing to the elimination stage. If we’re lucky, we might be treated to a rematch, where Doncic could even outdo himself.