In the face of a tough loss, Luka Doncic took it as a man

Jonas Miklovas
2022-09-15 09:48

Contrary to other superstars of EuroBasket, Luka Doncic showed up for a press conference following elimination and took responsibility upon himself.

Credit: FIBA

Luka Doncic was whining a lot. He would argue with the referees so much that he often was late to defense. He would stare them down, running up and down the court.

It even seemed that in EuroBasket 2022, he shrugged his shoulders more often than he hit 3-pointers.

But he was also the first to acknowledge Polish players after Slovenia lost in the quarterfinals 87-90. He threw the ball away and went straight to Mateusz Ponitka, the captain of Poland's national team.

Player of the Game
Mateusz  Ponitka
Mateusz Ponitka
Points 26
Accuracy 8-17
Rebounds 16
Assists 10

Incredibly enough, Ponitka stole the show in a game where Doncic was supposed to be a star. Ponitka had 26 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists for only the third triple-double in EuroBasket history.

Doncic went straight to him and hugged him firmly. He then congratulated every player on the Polish team, and other Slovenians followed the lead.

Several minutes later, Luka showed up at the press conference, which was also almost surprising.

Throughout the tournament, the accessibility of the three main stars, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic, was close to zero.

Jokic never, not even after his team sensationally lost in the Round of 16, talked to Serbian or international media.

Antetokounmpo did it once when he came to a press conference following a game in the Group stage in Milan. After Greece's shocking loss in the quarterfinal, he skipped media sessions in the mixed zone and press conference.

Doncic, compared to the other two stars, was already more accessible. He talked twice after games in the Group stage in Cologne and once in practice.

And he again showed his respect towards the media when he came up to the press conference following a heartbreaking loss in the quarterfinals.

Following the game, it is always a coach and a selected player who comes to the press conference. The team chooses the player for the press conference, as FIBA has no input here. So, in this case, it was Doncic himself who decided to show up.

And he showed up like a man. He took the responsibility, did not say a word about referees, and even downplayed his numerous minor injuries.

"I received an injection in the third quarter. I was dealing with a lot this EuroBasket. But that's not the reason. Today I played terribly. I let my team down. I let my whole country down. That's on me," Doncic said.

"Let's give credit to Poland. Most of us had us as favorites. But Poland has a great team. Like I talked about Belgium. This EuroBasket was amazing to see. The games were unbelievable. Sad we couldn't get through. I think this EuroBasket was something else. There were many amazing, great teams," Doncic added.

Nobody expected Slovenia, the reigning EuroBasket champion, to get eliminated in the quarterfinal. But you could get the feeling that this team was a bit off.

Maybe that's because Luka Doncic was not 100% healthy. He averaged 26.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 6.6 assists, but he also turned the ball over 4.3 times per game, shot only 32.2% on threes (19/59), and was a constant target on defense.

Maybe that's because being the favorite with a target on your back is much harder than trying to create a Cinderella story.

Credit FIBA
Back in 2017, Slovenia was not considered to be the favorite before the tournament, but they stole the hearts of neutral fans with a spectacular up-tempo game. This year they had flashes, but they also looked too vulnerable on defense.

Or maybe that's because of a laid-back attitude between the games. The Slovenian national team is like a family, but there are many whispers about them enjoying life late into the night a bit too much.

But as it is mostly in losses, probably everything added up.

Casual fans will remember EuroBasket 2022 as the one where Luka Doncic scored 47 points, the second-best all-time individual performance. But they will also remember it as the one where Luka and Slovenia failed to advance to the semifinals.

The ones who followed EuroBasket a bit closer will remember this EuroBasket as the one where Luka Doncic complained and argued a lot. But we should also remember that he took a loss like a grown-up.

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