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Luka Doncic Scores 47, Leading Slovenia Past France

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Luka Doncic with Slovenia. |Image by Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters

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The NBA is in the middle of its offseason, but Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic is still in MVP form.

The Slovenian superstar made history at the prestigious EuroBasket tournament in Cologne, Germany, Wednesday, dropping 47 points against France, leading his country to a crucial 88-82 win that clinched the top spot in Group B.

Doncic’s 47 points are the most scored in a single game at EuroBasket in the past 65 years and second most of all time. Only Germany’s Eddy Terrace has scored more in a single EuroBasket game, with an incredible 63 points in 1957, according to FIBA.

For context, EuroBasket games are 40 minutes long, compared to 48-minute NBA games. Doncic played just shy of 39 minutes Wednesday to score his 47 points.

In his five seasons with the Mavericks, Doncic has only scored more than 47 in a game twice, a career-high 51 on February 10 against the Los Angeles Clippers and 49 on February 17 against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Doncic’s performance Wednesday was even more dynamic than the 36-point, 10-rebound stat line he dropped in a win against previously undefeated host nation Germany less than one full day earlier.

Doncic was incredibly efficient in the win over France, shooting 15-of-23 from the field and 6-of-11 from three while adding seven rebounds and five assists.

Not even an elbow to the head with 38 seconds remaining before halftime could slow down Doncic. He finished with 27 points at the break, and after requiring stitches in his hair during halftime, Doncic returned to the court and continued pouring in buckets.

He scored in multiple fashions, from close and long range, and even on a one-footed three-point floater from the corner over NBA defensive stalwart Rudy Gobert that elicited a collective gasp from the crowd in Cologne and his teammates.

“When I saw that, I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s going to be a long night for France,” said Slovenian player Vlatko Cancar, who plays for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets.

After France used a late run to erase a double-digit lead and tie the score at 82 with about two minutes remaining, Slovenia’s veteran guard Goran Dragic restored his country’s advantage with a steal-and-score at the 1:20 mark. Doncic secured the rebound on France’s ensuing shot attempt, and Cancar secured the victory with a jumper in the final minute.

After the game, Slovenian national basketball team members continued pouring love over the Mavericks superstar.

“He is our Wonder Boy and I am happy that he is Slovenian,” Zoran Dragic told reporters after the win, summing up Doncic’s importance to his country.

“Luka had a great night. He spoils us so much,” Slovenian head coach Aleksander Sekulic added of Doncic’s explosive performance. “We think this is normal. That is not normal.”

Finishing top of Group B means Slovenia, the defending EuroBasket champions, having won the most recent edition in 2017, will face the fourth-place finisher of Group A when the knockout rounds begin on Saturday in Berlin.

It also means they will avoid medal favorites from Group A until at least the semifinals — Serbia, led by two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, and Greece, led by one-time MVP and NBA champion Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Slovenia will face either Montenegro, Belgium, or Georgia in the first knockout round, depending on the results of other games on Wednesday.

For France, despite the loss, it is still headed to the knockout rounds with eight points in Group B.    

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