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Basketball: How Luka Doncic helped Slovenia qualify for their first Olympics

It is a long road ahead for both the team and Luka, but we see Slovenia progressing with a young superstar at its helm.

NBA Basketball Player Luka Doncic

Basketball: Luka Magic Helps Slovenia Qualify For Their First Olympics (Source- FIBA)


Ananth Narasimman

Updated: 14 July 2021 8:14 AM GMT

Basketball has truly transcended boundaries and become a global sport, the NBA had a major factor to play along with its influx of elite talent and entertaining style of play among other factors. Times have genuinely changed with stars cropping up from countries that are not usually known for producing elite talent. The European influence in the league and in the sport is one of the key reasons the style of play is fast-paced and entertaining.

European players are usually known for their flair, style and unselfish brand of basketball. Legends and All-Stars such as Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobli (Argentina), Tony Parker, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo among others have managed to impact the game in a manner that cannot be forgotten anytime soon. The increase of elite competition in Europe has not only benefited the sport overall but also levelled the playing field making it a lot harder for teams to win.

The rise of the game on the global scale gave us plenty of stars but few are as special as Luka Doncic of Slovenia. The 22-year old, 6 "7" guard, has battled with the world's best at a very young age and managed to more than hold his own. 'Luka Magic' as he is fondly called for his mesmerizing style of play has dominated every court he's stepped into leading to many accolades such as Euro League MVP and Rookie of the year at such a tender age.

Luka regularly earned comparisons to legends such as LeBron James and Magic Johnson for his ability to read his opponents and make decisive moves to slice through. His unparalleled court vision is an added factor that makes him stand apart from his peers despite his relative inexperience compared to them.

Luka's impact and his love for the game were described perfectly by his idol LeBron, "Luka is one of my favorite players in the NBA today," James said while on air with the Road Trippin' podcast earlier this month.

"For the simple fact of, the way I play the game is exactly how I love the way he plays the game. Team-first gets his guys involved, if you challenge me to score, I'm gonna score. And at the same time, I'm gonna score, but I'm gonna keep my guys involved. ... I play for the team, and I'm gonna play with a sense of joy.", as reported by Sports Illustrated.

Despite a grueling season and a taste of the postseason Luka jumped at the opportunity to make history and help his country qualify for the Olympics. Slovenia never qualified for the Olympics despite producing players such as Goran Dragic and Luka. That was about to change though, as the boy who was labeled by Marca as "El Niño Maravilla" (The Wonder Boy), took it on his shoulders and carried his team through qualification.

The team had to somehow find a way past Lithuania that featured the likes of All-Star Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas. Luka dropped a triple-double and dominated every facet of the game which in turn helped his teammates ease up and make winning plays.

Luka's effect was described perfectly by Team USA coach Greg Popovich, "He's one of the best players in the world, his innate basketball IQ is so impressive. You put four hard-working people around him and you've got a hell of a team.", as reported by Sports Illustrated.

His innate ability to not only be the best version of himself but also help his teammates is what makes Luka a once-in-a-generation talent who we are lucky to see in action. It is a long road ahead for both the team and Luka, but we see Slovenia progressing with a young superstar at its helm.

When asked about his feelings on qualifying, Luka told Sports Illustrated, "We won here. We're going to the Olympics, the first time in our country('s history), It's amazing. I think every kid dreams about being in the Olympics. I did, too. So, here we are. We fought really, really hard, and I think we deserve to be here."

Luka Doncic (Source- FIBA)

Slovenia, led by Luka Doncic, will have their task cut out but knowing the odds that they had to overcome, their qualification is not only a moment to cherish but maybe a start of something special that will last long.

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