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World Cup 2023: Three Mavericks square off in Slovenia’s biggest test yet against Australia

Luka Dončić will face two fellow Mavericks in Josh Green and Dante Exum, when Slovenia play Australia Friday

Chicago Bulls v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Slovenia-Australia, Friday 1. September, 7.10 am CT, 14.10 Europe

After getting through to the Second Round undefeated, Slovenia will play one of the contenders, Australia, on Friday. Here, three of the four Mavericks participating in the World Cup will face each other: Australia’s Josh Green and Dante Exum, and of course Slovenia’s Luka Dončić.

This is going to be by far the toughest test yet for Slovenia. The Boomers have 10 current NBA players on their roster: Mills, Thybulle, Ingles, Landale, Green, Dellavedova, White, Xavier Cooks, Dyson Daniels, and Josh Giddey. Slovenia has one.

The Australian national team have been refocusing its style of play recently, to have more long, athletic wings who are versatile defensively and can play in transition. Josh Green is a big part of this strategy, and started their last game against Japan, where he made a real impact on defense, being the team’s number one point-of-attack defender.

But he also made a difference on offense, playing 22 minutes, scoring 15 points and went two for three from deep. If Josh Green can keep up this level of play consistently, there’s a good chance he can play an even bigger and more important role on the Dallas Mavericks next season. (Did someone say FIBA leap?)

Head coach of the Australian team, Brian Goorjian, has made clear that Josh Green is key to playing the way the team wants to, both on defense but also on offense, creating space for guards Josh Giddey and Patty Mills by stretching the floor and running in transition. Goorjian also recently said that he’s never had a defensive unit as versatile as these Australian Boomers.

For Slovenia to have a chance to win against this team, who play fast and defend aggressively, they have to get a better start than they did against Cape Verde Wednesday. They don’t have time to play catch up and be sloppy on defense, Australia will simply leave them in the dirt if Slovenia give them any openings.

It will be interesting to see Josh Green most likely guarding Luka, as Australia’s best point-of-attack defender. These two know each other well and this duel will be one of the great stories of this game.

But more than up their defense, Slovenia has to clean up their transition defense and try to get more stops and rebounds on both ends. They have to try to control the pace, because if they allow Australia to run, the game will be over for Slovenia. The good news is that Luka Doncic is the master of controlling the pace of a basketball game.

The next piece of good news is that Slovenia has the manpower to bother Australia, and if they play to their strengths, connected team play and aggressive defense from the get-go, they have a chance to stop this team. With Luka, anything is possible, but defense will determine the outcome of this game.

They have to be ready from the start, have a little shooting luck and a lot of hustle to win. It’s not impossible, but it’s a tall task for the injury plagued team.

Second Round: Slovenia will play Australia Friday ​​14:10 (Europe), 7.10 am CT and Germany on Sunday 13:10 (Europe), 6.10 am CT.