In a non-eliminatory match but with a round of 16 flavor due to the path that had to be followed later, Spain lost to Slovenia (87-95) and was condemned to a very tough confrontation in the quarterfinals. Spain was superior during numerous sections of the match, but Slovenia, even with Doncic somewhat contained although bordering on triple double, never left the match. There was a critical moment at the beginning of the third quarter in which Spain led by 12 points, but the Central European team quickly covered the ground, much more than the genius of the Mavericks. And in the final head-to-head, Slovenia reigned.
There is a bitter aftertaste even though nothing has been lost. Spain played close to its best level, but it was not enough to maintain it and move forward in a match that was almost a safe-conduct for the semifinals. Sergio Scariolo meticulously planned the game trying to minimize Doncic’s immense abilities. The coach from Brescia raised what looked like a 1-2-2 zone that became a box + 1 in defense. A square with Victor Claver, defensive specialist, on Doncic. Legs, size and a lot of experience of the Valencian, with more minutes like four after the loss of Juancho Hernangomez.
Spain managed to get two quick fouls off Doncic and led the scoreboard around five points. The Slovenians are much more than the star of the Mavericks. There are some NBA players, many from the Euroleague . And they seem to be immersed in a mission, to gild the incredible moment of Slovenian sport, with world top athletes in various disciplines with a slightly larger population than Seville or Malaga and a quarter of Andalusia. At the end of the first quarter, Doncic committed a foul in attack that Abrines took from him, the third. Spain commanded (24-20).
It usually happens, when during a game the objective is achieved, as in this case it was to minimize the rival star, there is an involuntary relaxation. Without Doncic, Slovenia did damage (24-26) but a timeout by Scariolo quickly put things in order (31-26). I had some option to stretch Spain, but the alpine team always found some resource. Outside Cancar, Dragic, Prepelic or Tobey . There were fields of improvement for the team, such as closing the rebound better (something complicated by the width of the field that the Slovenian team generates with its attack) and getting more inside annotation, since the rival collapsed the area. Ricky was trying to get the fourth from Doncic in an attack, but the referees did not give it. And Spain commanded 44-41, with good feelings.
An initial volley of triples fromAbalde , his match matured, and Rudy Fernandez extended the starting income (57-45). A phenomenal Ricky failed, with Marc Gasol the references, a couple of attacks after big imbalances, and Slovenia pressed. Sergio Rodriguez gave air with six consecutive points, but Slovenia did a lot of damage with the burly Dimec sweeping everything that came near the rim and for the first time the Slovenians felt the control stick (68-68) at the end of the third quarter , with a large volume of possessions, something that prioritized Slovenian interests.
At a time when the game seemed to slip away after Doncic had given a phenomenal assist and Tobeytook over from Dimec, two huge triples by Pau Gasol and another by Abalde gave Spain (82-76) more air. But there the team doubted, it was less aggressive in the attacks and inside it had serious problems in defense, with Cancar punishing the help. Maybe Ricky is late in coming out. With 87-88 with 15 seconds to go, a triple by Abalde went off. And another three-pointer by Ricky with eight seconds to tie did not go in either. Slovenia is still on that mission, which is not exclusive to Doncic. And now comes a tremendous crossover.

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