Tokyo Olympics: 'My shots weren't falling' – Doncic explains 18-assist triple-double in defeat

By Sports Desk August 05, 2021

Luka Doncic explained an uncharacteristic poor shooting performance was the reason for his assist-heavy approach in Slovenia's Olympic semi-final defeat to France, despite appearing to sustain a wrist injury in the fourth quarter.

Slovenia – featuring at their first Games – agonisingly went down 90-89 to France following Nicolas Batum's block in the final three seconds of the game.

The European champions ran Les Bleus close even as Doncic attempted only two shots in the fourth quarter.

The Dallas Mavericks superstar looked to have taken a knock when he collided with a court-side screen early in the fourth but did not indicate any issue as he discussed his late preference for passes.

"My shots weren't falling today, so I was trying to find open team-mates," Doncic said.

Asked specifically about the final play when Batum blocked Klemen Prepelic's lay-up from a Doncic pass, he added: "I think Batum was helping so I had to pass.

"I think [Prepelic] was open and it was a great drive, but Batum had an amazing block. I think it was a good choice.

"Not always you can make a smart choice but I trust them, they trust me and I thought that was a good choice."

Doncic shot five-for-18 from the field and two-for-nine from three-point range but still tallied 16 points, 10 rebounds and 18 assists.

He became only the third player in Olympic history to record a triple-double, following in the footsteps of Alexander Belov and LeBron James.

But having been beaten for the first time in Slovenia colours, falling to 17-1 after success at EuroBasket 2017 and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas, Doncic was not interested in individual achievements.

"We lost the game so I don't care about my performance," he said.

Doncic leads the Games in points (121) and assists (50) but has also drawn the most fouls (39) and played the most minutes (160) in a gruelling campaign.

Opponent Evan Fournier felt the point forward, who led the NBA in usage rate last season (36 per cent), tired under close scrutiny from the French defenders.

"It was the objective to target him all through the match, several of us in relay," New York Knicks signing Fournier said.

"Tim [Luwawu-Cabarrot] did an excellent job, Nico did an excellent job, and I think, as strong as he is, in a 40-minute match you still get tired physically.

"He wasn't taking three-point shots and I think if he'd been fresher he would have done."

Doncic said of the attention: "I'm used to every defense now."

Batum embraced the 22-year-old at the end of the game, with the duo facing off in yet another crunch contest after a seven-game playoff series between the Mavs and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Doncic was on the losing side on that occasion, too, but averaged 35.7 points per game, and he said of the post-game exchange with Batum: "It was a good message. He's a class act. He told me he hates playing against me, in a good way."

Related items

  • Atalanta snap up Boga from Sassuolo Atalanta snap up Boga from Sassuolo

    Jeremie Boga has left Sassuolo for Atalanta in a deal reported to be worth €18million. 

    Former Chelsea winger Boga will be on loan at Atalanta for the remainder at the season, though the move will be made permanent in the close season. 

    The Ivory Coast international scored 18 goals and supplied seven assists in 98 Serie A games after joining Sassuolo from Chelsea in 2018. 

    Boga has attempted (152) and completed (80) more dribbles than any other player in Serie A since the start of 2021.

    His 90 carries with a take on in the same timeframe is also the most of any player in the Italian top-flight, with only Adama Traore (145), Allan Saint-Maximin (122), Kylian Mbappe (113), Vinicius Junior (104), Neymar (102) and Yannick Carrasco (94) boasting more across Europe's top five leagues. 

    "I'm really happy right now and so is my family as we've wanted to come here for a long time. Now we're happy that the deal is done," Boga told the club's official media. 

    "I think Atalanta are a great team, they are very strong and have proved to be an important team in Serie A over the past five or six years. 

    "I think it perfectly matches my style of play. I believe it's the right team for me to take another step and try to win something important. 

    "I know everybody expects something more from me and, at the same time, I expect myself to do better. I'm happy to be here. 

    "I know it's a solid team where everyone runs for the other, where each player works, and I think it's perfect, as you can see it's a real team." 

  • Ranieri sacked by Watford following Norwich loss Ranieri sacked by Watford following Norwich loss

    Claudio Ranieri has been sacked by Watford after their loss to relegation rivals Norwich City left them in the Premier League's drop zone. 

    Watford went down 3-0 at home to Norwich on Friday, extending their winless run in all competitions to nine games – their worst such stretch since December 2013. 

    It proved to be the final straw, with Ranieri having only claimed seven points from a possible 39 since taking over from Xisco Munoz in October. 

    He became Watford's 15th manager since Giampaolo Pozzo bought the club in June 2012 and leaves without having much of an impact.

    The club released a statement confirming the news on Monday.

    Watford praised the "integrity" of the 70-year-old, but explained they felt a change was required to give Ranieri's replacement enough time in their fight against relegation.

    "Watford Football Club confirms the departure of head coach Claudio Ranieri," it read.

    "The Hornets' board recognises Claudio as a man of great integrity and honour, who will always be respected here at Vicarage Road for his efforts in leading the team with dignity.

    "However the board feels that, with nearly half of the Premier League campaign remaining, a change in the head coach position now will give a new appointment sufficient time to work with a talented squad to achieve the immediate goal of retaining Premier League status.

    "No further club comment will be made until this new appointment is confirmed in due course."

    Watford will hope to end a run of 30 Premier League games without a clean sheet when they travel to Burnley on February 5. 

  • AFCON matchday preview: Cape Verde plotting Senegal derby upset, Morocco face Malawi AFCON matchday preview: Cape Verde plotting Senegal derby upset, Morocco face Malawi

    Cape Verde are plotting an Africa Cup of Nations upset when they do battle with Senegal in a round-of-16 derby and Morocco are strong favourites to beat Malawi on Tuesday.

    Senegal won Group B despite scoring only one goal in three games, while Cape Verde qualified after finishing third in Group A.

    Morocco topped Group C and will be expected to advance to the quarter-finals at the expense of a Malawi side that were third in Group B and will be playing their first AFCON knockout match.


    Senegal v Cape Verde (16:00 GMT)

    This will be the first Africa Cup of Nations clash between the two nations and Cape Verde will be playing only their second ever knockout match in the tournament.

    The Blue Sharks were beaten 2-0 by Ghana at the quarter-final stage in 2013 and they will have to defy the odds at Kouekong Stadium to reach last eight once again.

    Cape Verde coach Pedro Brito believes his players can spring a big surprise in Bafoussam.

    He said: "We have worked hard in our training and facing a team like Senegal is an added motivation, because the match is like a derby.

    "They have to respect us as a team the same way we respect them.

    "The competition has seen a lot of surprises, and we hope to be the other team that will cause an upset as our mission is to win the game and move to the next round."

    The Lions of Teranga have not been firing on all cylinders, but they are the only side in the tournament not to have conceded a goal.

    The three sides to have faced Senegal have only been able to muster three shots on target between them, so Cape Verde must grasp any chances they are able to create.
     

    One to watch: Idrissa Gueye (Senegal)

    Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Gueye is a key man for Senegal, getting through so much work in the middle of the park.

    Gueye has played a big part in his side being so solid and the industrious former Everton man can boss the midfield battle.

     


    Morocco v Malawi (19:00 GMT)

    Malawi and Morocco will also lock horns for the first time in the AFCON at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo.

    Underdogs Malawi will be playing only their 10th game in this competition and they have only won two Africa Cup of Nations matches.

    They are unbeaten in two games, though, having remained in the tournament courtesy of a 2-1 win over Zimbabwe and a battling goalless draw against Senegal.

    Morocco beat Ghana and Comoros en route to last 16 before a 2-2 draw with Gabon. 

    Vahid Halilhodzic's side will under pressure to progress in Yaounde by dispatching a Malawi side that had an average of just 31.5 per cent of possession in the group stage, the lowest of any team.


    One to watch: Sofiane Boufal (Morocco)

    Boufal is Morocco's leading scorer in the tournament with two and he also created 10 chances 

    Only Algeria’s Youcef Belaïli created more opportunities in the group stage with 12 and Morocco will expect the winger to step up again.

     

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.