Tokyo Olympics: 'The best player in the world' - Luka Doncic puts competition on notice with historic Olympic debut


Slovenia isn't just here to make up the numbers.

One of the last teams to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, the tiny European nation boasts a population of just two million people, but lucky for them - one of them is Luka Doncic.

The 22-year-old NBA All-Star put on a show in his Olympic debut, powering Slovenia to a 118-100 win over the world's No.4 ranked team Argentina, at times reducing the veteran team to traffic cones in white Jordan Brand jerseys as he dissected their defence in a blistering 31-minute performance.

"For me, I said this two years ago: He is the best player in the world, including the NBA," Argentina's coach Sergio Hernandez said. "And if there was any doubt in my mind, there is no doubt anymore. He is the best player in the world."

Doncic pulled up from wherever he wanted, connecting on deep 3 after deep 3 as the Argentine defence scrambled to get anywhere near him. Even when they did, it didn't matter as he shot over double teams, manoeuvered into the paint and found teammates with a string of fancy assists.

"We tried everything that we would have tried against a normal player," Hernandez said. "But he's not a normal player."

Doncic checked out of the game with 4:35 remaining in the fourth quarter, with Oscar Schmidt's all-time Olympic record of 55 points well within his reach, but he cared little for chasing the record, despite his teammates and coaches urging him to come back in.

"I don't care about records," he said. "We got a win and that's what we came here for."

Doncic had piled up 31 points and eight rebounds by half-time and after a 'quiet' third quarter, he tied Australian Ed Palubinskas' record of 48 points (Montreal 1976) for the second-most points ever scored in an Olympic game.

"Everybody was telling him on the bench, 'OK, let's get the record,'" teammate Zoran Dragic said.

"But that's not the case. The case is to win the game. He knows that, and it's crazy that he's only 22 years old."

Doncic's NBA career-high his 46 points, so putting up 48 points in a 40-minute FIBA game is downright outrageous. His 48 points came on an efficient 18-of-29 from the field, 6-of-14 from the 3-point line and 6-of-7 at the free throw line, adding 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

Slovenia is making its first appearance in an Olympic Games, thanks largely to Doncic, who recorded a monster triple-double of 31 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists against powerhouse Lithuania in their 96-85 qualifying win on his way to being named MVP of the Olympic qualifying tournament.

After lifting the EuroBasket title in 2017 as an 18-year-old yet to play an NBA game, Doncic's rise is set to elevate Slovenia into a European powerhouse and while the title of best player in the world is still up for debate, the 22-year-old is certainly making his case.

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