Lauri Markkanen gave 43 more reasons for another Dirk Nowitzki comparison

Donatas Urbonas
Senior Staff Writer
2022-09-11 15:52

Lauri Markkanen matched Dirk Nowitzki's EuroBasket career-high on a special night for Finland basketball.

Credit: FIBA

Lauri Markkanen is probably tired of all these comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki. But his remarkable performance on a historical night for his country brought a few more reasons to put him in the same conversation with FIBA basketball legend.

Finland advanced to the EuroBasket quarterfinals behind Lauri's 43-point show, that brought them a victory over Croatia 94-86.

That's precisely the same as Dirk dropped vs. Spain in 2001 on his EuroBasket career-high night.

Player of the Game
Lauri  Markkanen
EFF
45
Lauri Markkanen
Points 43
Accuracy 19-29
Rebounds 9
Assists 3

The fact that Dirk Nowitzki is the official ambassador of the EuroBasket 2022 and follows games in the Mercedes-Benz arena in Berlin makes a perfect setup.

"Yeah, I've heard that before," he smiled when BasketNews asked him about another reason to compare him with Dirk Nowitzki.

"It's great to be at the same number as a legend himself. But I don't really care about scoring. I'm trying to win a basketball game," he said.

Croatia couldn't do anything against Lauri Markkanen.

He made fadeaway shots, dunked, or scored beyond the arc. He scored a tip-in at the buzzer with 0.1 seconds to play in the third quarter.

"It felt like the ball was going to the hoop every time I launched it," Markkanen admitted.

He was 19 of 29 from the field, had nine rebounds, three assists, and three steals.

Only Luka Doncic scored more points than him in a EuroBasket game in the 21st century.

"Well, I'm sure there are ways," it took a few seconds to think when Markkanen was asked how to stop him.

"But I try to help the team whenever it's possible. If my shots are not going in, I try to get to the free throw line and get closer to the basketball. I'm trying to affect the game in many ways. I'm not worried that I have to score. I just try to win the game and make the right basketball play every time," he answered.

"I was just trying to lead the way and get this win and get us somewhere where none of us has been before," Markkanen added.

The dream to have Finland among the top 8 teams in Europe seemed so far in 2011, when he started to follow his national team on TV.

"I remember ever since these guys started in 2011. That's when I really tuned in," Markkanen said. "But it's amazing to have a chance to play with some of these guys who were part of the journey. It's amazing to see where Finnish basketball went, and we're trying to push forward."

Just like Germany, Finland now has a blonde hair wunderkind to follow.

"He showed [everything] with his work, he didn't complain about stuff," Markkanen told about Dirk's example.

"He was just working his butt off and managed to lead those guys. He's a great role model for everybody. You can learn a lot from his leadership. I'm also just trying to become a leader of this team, trying to be vocal and lead by example," Markkanen concluded.



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