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Luka Dončić
Luka Dončić is starting to become Real Madrid’s key player. Foto: EPA

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After winning EuroBasket gold, Dončić now gunning for EuroLeague title

Dončić has a difficult year ahead of him
11. October 2017 ob 23:44
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

The EuroLeague Final Four event will be hosted in Belgrade in May. Five Slovenian players are vying for the title, but all eyes will be on Luka Dončić.

Last year, Euroleague Basketball introduced a new competition system. Europe’s premier basketball event now features a total of 16 teams, a change that proved to be very successful. Title defenders Fenerbahçe will be joined by their close rivals Efes, while Spain will have five clubs in this season’s EuroLeague. The top eight teams will qualify for the playoffs, and the winners will qualify for the Final Four event that is set to take place at the Kombank Arena in Belgrade.

Luka Dončić is becoming Real Madrid’s key man
A total of five Slovenian basketball players will participate in the competition, and the hottest name among them is Luka Dončić. Last year, the 18-year-old Ljubljana native won the EuroLeague Rising Star award as well as four EuroLeague MVP of the Round awards. This year, he has his work cut out for him after his teammate and EuroLeague MVP of the 2016–17 season Sergio Llull sustained an injury. Real Madrid coach Pablo Laso asked Dončić to replace Sergio Llull. The nine-time EuroLeague champions are currently third on the betting boards.

Dončić played a great EuroLeague season last year, but Real Madrid finished only fourth. Dončić left the Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul disappointed, but his tears turned into tears of joy when Slovenia became the 2017 EuroBasket champions in the same venue in September. In February, just days before turning 18, Dončić said that Slovenia would win a medal at the 2017 EuroBasket Championship. At the time, his words seemed overly optimistic, even utopian. Nonetheless, the "killer with a baby face" managed to win the coveted European Basketball Championship in his maiden year with the Slovenian national basketball team. In February, he also told MMC that he would definitely play for Slovenia, ruling out speculation he’d play for Spain or Serbia. Many people thought he’d have a better chance of winning the title with Spain or Serbia. However, not only did Slovenia win gold at the EuroBasket Championship, the team also trounced reigning champions Spain in the semi-final and beat Serbia in the final.

Dončić was the second most successful player of the Slovenian team behind Goran Dragić. Now, he and Real Madrid are gunning for the EuroLeague title. “This is a great challenge for me and my team. The EuroLeague title the is the most prestigious club title in Europe, and we’ll do everything to win it. Our competition is very strong. My club signed several new players because we have a very long season ahead of us. Last year, we managed to qualify for the Final Four for the fifth consecutive year, which is no small feat. Our fans expect us to win every game, and they expect us to put on a great show. We know that Real Madrid is one of the best clubs in Europe,” said the Ljubljana native.

Tilen Jamnik; translated by D. V.