On Wednesday, he proved once again that Luka Doncic is a phenomenon against strong France. In one match he scored no less than 47 points, the highest number in a European Championship match in 65 years. The Lions are therefore faced with an extremely difficult task. Commentator Dennis Xhaët and ex-international Sam Van Rossom are also aware of this.
“I think the Lions only have a 1 to 5% chance. The quality of Doncic alone can ensure that you don’t have a chance. He is really exceptionally good,” Van Rossom says. The former flag-bearer of the national team should know, because he played against Doncic several times in a club.
Xhaët is also impressed by the Slovenian star player: “He has been absolute world top for about 6 years and can literally do everything. It’s unbelievable what they have in the water in Slovenia.”
“At last year’s Olympics, Doncic would have led Slovenia to the final on his own. It is unlikely what impact he will have on
a team. Everyone around him gets better by playing with him,” adds Xhaët.
Doncic is only 23 years old, but plays with a kind “old man game“, thinks Xhaët: “You can compare it a bit with guys who have been a professional for 20 years and then, in their old age, start throwing a ball with some young people. And I mean that as a compliment. He always knows exactly what to do.”
Van Rossom agrees: “I call him a false slow. It doesn’t seem to go that fast at first glance, but his performance is fantastic. He has a lot of technical baggage, and also couples that with an enormous physical quality. He controls all aspects of the game.”
Doncic does not immediately look like the most athletic basketball player. The Slovenian is known for having trouble maintaining his weight.
“There are some stories about him. Last year he was photographed on a terrace with a pint in his hands just before a match. That turned out not to be entirely true, but it shows how people see Doncic,” says Xhaët.
Still, Doncic seems to be learning his lesson. Last summer he came back very sharp for the first time after his holiday period. He now seems to be reaping the benefits. Xhaët: “He seems fitter than ever. We also see that at this European Championship. And then I think he can only improve.”
But how are the Lions supposed to stop him tomorrow? “He is actually untenable,” says Xhaët. “The Belgians could try to let Doncic do his thing and keep the others out of the match, but Slovenia has more quality than Doncic alone, so that’s easier said than done.”
Van Rossom also does not immediately see a solution: “It is a player who will make 25 to 30 points anyway. If you are lucky at least, because otherwise it is more. You can try to stop him, but if I’m honest, it seems me that hopeless task.”
“Dario Gjergja will have to show a lot of creativity anyway to figure out how to stop Doncic,” concludes Xhaët.
The Lions can play without pressure. They are the clear underdog against in the game against Slovenia. “You should always start with the mindset that you can win”, Xhaët advises.
“In addition, the European Championship of the Lions has already been successful. That victory against Spain ensures that. The Lions have also played beautiful and modern basket. If they were out against Slovenia, that is nothing to be ashamed of,” concludes the commentator.