Luka Doncic, Edy Tavares cherish Madrid days before facing each other in FIBA World Cup

Edvinas Jablonskis
Daily Editor
2023-08-30 02:55

For the first time, Luka Doncic and Edy Tavares will face each other as opponents in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, as both players shared their excitement for such an opportunity.

Credit: FIBA, Zhang Xiaoyu/Xinhua via ZUMA Press-Scanpix
Credit FIBA, Zhang Xiaoyu/Xinhua via ZUMA Press-Scanpix

FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 and Okinawa reunited two old friends.

Slovenia national team star Luka Doncic will face his former teammate and Cape Verde's symbol, Edy Tavares.

Even though both players spent only one season in Real Madrid, it seems that a life-long friendship was born.

Luka Doncic

Luka  Doncic
Position: SG
Age: 24
Height: 201 cm
Weight: 104 kg
Birth place: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Their 1-year partnership was marked by the EuroLeague and the Spanish ACB trophies, while Doncic was the most dominant player in Europe at 19 years old.

"It was great because Luka plays basketball like he's spending time with friends," Tavares remembered the days in Madrid. "He never gets tired of playing, he always tries to play basketball and be better. For me, it's a pleasure to see him, and it was an honor being his teammate."

Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic
Credit AFP-Scanpix

Doncic continued his improvement, becoming one of the leading NBA MVP candidates in recent years, and Tavares' prediction about the Slovenian star is on the right track.

"It's a pleasure seeing him playing like this because when I got to Madrid, I told people that he's going to be the best player in the world or the best European that played in the NBA. They didn't really believe [me], but now I'm super happy seeing him succeed like this," Tavares said.

Yet, Tavares also wasn't standing still in terms of improvement. During his debut season in the EuroLeague, Tavares averaged 6.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 10.6 PIR per game.

Last season, his numbers were 11.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, and 18 PIR. Tavares became one of the most dominant players in Europe and guided Real Madrid to the EuroLeague trophy, becoming the Final Four MVP.

Doncic paid his respect to Tavares for his growth as a player.

"First of all, he's an amazing guy," Doncic said. "We spent a lot of time when I was in Madrid. Great guy and an amazing player. I think he's the most impactful player in the EuroLeague."

Edy Tavares
Edy Tavares
Credit Erikas OvĨarenko/BNS

Now, both of them will face each other for the first time as opponents on Wednesday when their respective national teams play in the last Group F matchup.

Slovenians are already through to the Second Round and will be looking for their third win, while Cape Verde will aim for its second win and a place in the Round of 16.

Both Doncic and Tavares can't wait to be on the court.

"It's going to be special. I never played against him, and it will be really tough, but I'm looking forward to playing against him," Doncic noted.

"It's a dream to play against him again," Tavares said. "I want to feel like it was during every practice in Madrid, so I will try to enjoy it. I hope we can win, but it's going to be tough because Luka is one of the best players in the world."

"It's always tough to play against him. I think Luka was born to play basketball. I mean, we are never going to rush Luka. He will always play the rhythm he wants to play," Real Madrid star continued.

Just like two old friends, Doncic and Tavares have a running joke. Before the FIBA World Cup, Doncic revealed his message to Cape Verdean.

"I told him he's never blocked me before, but maybe now he'll have a chance," Doncic said.

Yet, it seems that Tavares has another opinion.

"I don't know," Tavares answered with a laugh. "That's too many practices with him. He has a lot of tricks and fakes. Maybe [I didn't block him], but I don't think that's true]."

Well, Tavares will have his chance to make it official on Wednesday.


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