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AP Basketball Writer
SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — Luka Doncic’s first Olympics have not been perfect, despite what the basketball standings say. He was defeated. Once. By the rules.
Doncic was looking for tickets to go watch men’s tennis when Novak Djokovic was playing in the men’s semifinals. Ordinarily, the world’s top athletes have no problem getting into other Olympic events when their schedules allow. But at the Tokyo Games, amid a pan- demic, there are very strict policies about what athletes can do and where they can go. As such, Doncic’s plea for tickets went unfulfilled.
He settled for watching “everything on TV,” Doncic said.
Another marquee event is coming up Tuesday, that being the men’s basketball quarterfinals at the Tokyo Games. Doncic won’t have tickets to those, but won’t need them, either. He’ll be on the court when Slovenia takes on Germany for a berth in the medal round, a step that would put his basketball-crazed homeland even more on the sport’s map and potentially send his stock soaring even higher.
“We have, obviously, the best player in the world,” Slovenia coach Aleksander Sekulic said.
Doncic is certainly in the conversation about being the world’s best. As far as being the best player in the Tokyo Games, there’s no argument. Through the group stage, Doncic led the Olympic men’s field in scoring at 28.3 points per game, 6.0 points ahead of Japan’s Rui Hachimura. He’s second in rebounding at 10.7 per game, behind only Slovenian teammate Mike Tobey’s 13 per contest. And he’s third in assists at 7.0 per game; Tomas Satoransky of the Czech Republic averaged 8.7, Spain’s Ricky Rubio is averaging 7.3.
No men’s player has ever finished an Olympics averag- ing Doncic’s current num- bers. And nobody has averaged 28.3 points in an Olympics since Brazil’s Oscar Schmidt — the Olympic standard for just about every men’s scoring mark — averaged 42.3 per game at Seoul in 1988.
Nobody in this men’s tournament has drawn more fouls, by a wide margin, than Doncic. He’s also tied for the Olympic lead in blocked shots, is shooting a ridiculous 75% on 2-pointers, is one of five players in the Olympics with at least 10 makes so far on 3-point- ers. He had a 48-point Olympic debut, tying him for the second-highest scoring game in Olympic history, and was one assist shy on Sunday against Spain from posting what would have been the third triple-double ever at a games.
“He is the best player in the world, including the NBA,” Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said. “If there was any doubt in my mind, it is there no more.”
For as good as Doncic is with the Dallas Mavericks, he’s been impossible to beat in his nation’s colors.
Slovenia’s senior team is 16-0 with Doncic in the line- up. He was a teenager on the team that captured the European championship in 2017 behind Goran Dragic’s MVP performance, a win that remains, for now anyway, the top achievement in Slovenia’s basketball history. Dragic insisted — not predicted — when that tourna- ment was over that Doncic would be an NBA “super- star.”