By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The tournament favorites and defending champion Slovenia are out of the EuroBasket.
Led by NBA superstar Luka Doncic, the Slovenian national team crashed out of the EuroBasket quarterfinals after losing at the hands of Poland, 90-87.
It was one of the most stunning upsets in EuroBasket history after the Doncic-led squad was backstopped by former superstar Goran Dragic in its attempt for a back-to-back EuroBasket championship campaign.
Poland struck early and banked on its balanced attack after building an enormous 23-point lead late in the second quarter.
Mateusz Ponitka played hero ball for Poland and displayed a performance for the ages after dropping 26 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists against Slovenia.
However, Slovenia clawed their way back from a 23-point deficit and flipped the switch in the third quarter with a 24-6 scoring run.
The duo of Dragic and Doncic looked to pull away after taking over the lead in the first three minutes of the final canto, 73-68, off a perimeter jump shot from sniper Klemen Prepelic.
Just when the Slovenians thought they already took full control of the game, Poland rediscovered its offensive touch in the most crucial stretch of the fourth quarter and snowballed their way to a 21-7 scoring run.
It was a disappointing performance for Slovenia after failing to reach the 10-point mark with over six minutes left in the ball game.
Doncic, who put up stellar numbers during the elimination phase of the tournament, was only held to 14 points on 5/15 shooting with 11 rebounds and seven assists.
“Today I played terrible. I let my team down. I let the whole country who was supporting us down. I’ve got to look at this game and be better,” said Doncic.
With the win, Poland will have a tough test in the tournament semifinals as they face Rudy Gobert and the French national team while Germany and Spain will square off in the other semis bracket.