NBA superstar Luka Dončić has taken the blame for the EM knockout of Slovenian basketball players. “I played terribly today. I failed my team and the whole country that supported us. It’s all on me. I have to watch this game and get better,” said the 23-year-old from the Dallas Mavericks late on Wednesday evening after the surprising 87:90 defeat against outsiders Poland.
Dončić will leave Berlin like Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece and Nikola Jokic from Serbia without a medal. The playmaker had shown his weakest performance of the tournament so far against the Poles. Although there were 14 points, eleven rebounds and seven assists in the end, Dončić also lost six balls and made numerous mistakes. In addition, the star had to leave early in the final phase after five personal fouls.
“The level is amazing”
“I wasn’t at 100 percent. I got an injection in the third quarter,” admitted Dončić. His team of NBA pro Goran Dragic and center Mike Tobey was considered one of the big contenders for the gold medal. Especially Dončić looked outstanding before the quarterfinals with three games in a row in which he scored at least 35 points.
Now the series broke, it was followed by the sudden end. “This EM was great to watch, the level is unbelievable,” Dončić said about the general level. The semi-finals on Friday will now be played by France and Poland (5:15 p.m. on Magentasport) as well as Germany and Spain (8:30 p.m. on RTL and Magentasport).
The referees and their performance remain an ongoing topic at the European Championship. Italy’s Nicolo Melli criticized the referees appointed by the world association Fiba on Wednesday evening after his team’s elimination in the quarter-finals against France. “I’ve never talked about the referees in my career. I won’t do that today either. But I think Fiba has to do something. Not because of our game. Too many big mistakes happen,” said the former Bamberg Melli at Magentasport.
Italy lost the quarterfinals 85:93 after extra time, especially in the final phase there were several controversial decisions. “So many have said that this is the tournament with the most talent. Then we just have to have the best. As a player, as an organization and as a referee. That’s the only way we can have the best tournament,” added Melli.
Because the Euroleague and Fiba do not cooperate, numerous top referees from the best European club competition are missing from the tournament. There had already been discussions in the preliminary round after two big mistakes: 22 seconds ran off the clock in the game between Georgia and Turkey, although the game was interrupted. In addition, a free throw was missed after a technical foul in the game between Germany and Lithuania. Fiba admitted both mistakes after the preliminary round. From then on, the referee team for the German game was no longer used at the European Championship.