The Slovenian national team announced Saturday that Luka Doncic will sit out of today’s exhibition match against Team USA. Doncic, who has made appearances in a string of preparation scrimmages, played in yesterday’s loss to Spain.
Given the nature of exhibition matchups it makes little sense for Slovenia to trot the Dallas Mavericks star out on the second night of a back-to-back, especially after a couple of bang ups this week. And given that real competition is on the horizon, and could lead to Slovenia facing the U.S. again, perhaps smart to take this one lightly.
This is all leading up to the start of the 2023 FIBA World Cup, taking place August 25 to September 10 in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. Slovenia begin play August 26 against Venezuela, and will also face Georgia and Cape Verde in the group stage, likely setting up advancement to the second round.
Team USA, who face Jordan, Greece and New Zealand (starting August 26) in group play, are led by former Dallas Maverick Jalen Brunson. Doncic and Brunson, both drafted by the Mavericks in the same summer, have remained close during their time in the league. Since Brunson departed Dallas in favor of the New York Knicks he has faced Doncic just once.
“We haven’t really talked about the game or playing against each other, but we talk every now and then, always try to check up on each other,” Brunson recently told the Athletic, leading up to today’s game. “I just know he’s a competitor. Everyone obviously knows what he’s capable of. … Obviously when we’re playing and we aren’t teammates, we aren’t friends, but off the court, it’s (a) special (relationship).”
Here’s hoping the two get to face off in FIBA play.