Luka Doncic's father talks Mavs star leadership, expectations for Slovenia in World Cup

Edvinas Jablonskis
Daily Editor
2023-08-28 16:50

Luka Doncic's father, Sasa Doncic, believes that reaching the quarterfinal would be a big success for Slovenia.

Credit: FIBA

Over the years, Sasa Doncic, the Slovenian national team star Luka Doncic's father, has become a well-known fan of his country, and the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 is no exception.

The 49-year-old traveled with the rest of the team to Okinawa, Japan, to follow the action live and support his country.

Slovenia began the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 with a 100-85 win against Venezuela and was facing a key matchup for a potential 1st place in the group.

Player of the Game
Luka  Doncic
Luka Doncic
Points 34
Accuracy 9-20
Rebounds 10
Assists 6

"I think in the first game, we played well," Sasa Doncic told BasketNews. "Okay, Venezuela shot well from the 3-point, but anyway, in the end, Slovenia won, and that's the most important."

Indeed, Slovenia showed their usual offensive power, with Luka leading the way with 37 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 39 EFF performance.

With Vlatko Cancar and Edo Muric missing the World Cup due to injuries, as expected, Doncic took everything into his hands and took over the game. However, Luka was given extra responsibility off the court as well.

Before the World Cup started, Doncic was named Slovenia's captain. So, how does his father see him in the new duties?

"He's now officially captain, but I think that before, he was also a leader," the 49-year-old said. "Not only in the national team but in Dallas as well. At 24 years old, he has a lot of experience to be a leader, and I think he is and will be a great leader."

Sasa Doncic has followed Slovenia and his son in international tournaments for many years now. You would think he knows the team inside out, making him one of the best people to ask how the team dealt with the mentioned players' injuries.

"Everybody is sorry for that. Vlatko Cancar suffered injury two weeks before the World Cup. Before that, Edo Muric was also ruled out. These two are very important guys for the national team," Sasa Doncic explained.

"Of course, the whole team was sad, but they are also aware that they need to take more responsibilities and play," he added.

Credit FIBA

Before Cancar's injury, Slovenia was among the favorites in the World Cup. No surprises when you have Luka Doncic, reach the semifinal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and aim to respond after a crushing defeat against Poland in EuroBasket 2022.

Yet, the circumstances changed, and Sasa Doncic was rather conservative after being asked about Slovenia's expectations in the FIBA World Cup 2023.

"Expectations? We have a lot of problems with injuries, and I think, if we go to Manila, it would be a big success for this team," Sasa Doncic said. "If you qualify for the quarterfinal, you never know. It's one game, so you can expect anything."

However, reaching the quarterfinal won't be easy as it seems Slovenia will need to beat Australia or Germany to achieve this goal.

"I think a lot will depend on the Georgia game [the interview was conducted before Slovenia's win]. If Slovenia wins all three games [in First Round], they can beat Germany or Australia. Anyway, Germany is a great team, and it will be very hard. That's why I said that going to Manila would be a big success," Sasa Doncic explained.

We don't need to look far to understand that this FIBA World Cup is far from a cakewalk. France became the first team to learn the lesson in a hard way after being eliminated from the World Cup title race by Latvia.

"So far, it is the biggest surprise for me," Sasa Doncic admitted. "Before the World Cup started, I thought France was one of the favorites for the medals. But that's basketball – expect the unexpected."

Apart from who's going to become the World Cup champions, another important question remains: which teams will directly qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics? Right now, Sasa Doncic couldn't tell.

"There are a lot of great countries and good players. Germany is here, Latvia is here, Lithuania is here. Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia. I really don't know," Doncic admitted.


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