If you look at the Spanish national team’s roster competing in Eurobasket 2017, you’re bound to notice the star power. That’s because Spain is loaded with six NBA players, including both Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol, Willy Hernangomez and Juancho Hernangomez, Ricky Rubio and Alex Abrines.
But as dominant as Spain’s roster looked on paper, they stood no match for Slovenia on Thursday in the semifinals of the tournament. Led by Goran Dragic and top 2018 NBA prospect Luka Doncic, Slovenia pounded the Spaniards, 92-72.
Slovenia will advance to play the winner of Russia vs. Serbia in the Eurobasket Final, while Spain will face the loser for a shot at bronze.
Doncic was unstoppable
After putting up 27 points and nine rebounds against Kristaps Porzingis and Latvia in the quarterfinal, Luka Doncic added on a near triple double that proved the 18-year-old belongs on the same court as seasoned NBA veterans.
Doncic finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, shining through a 30 percent shooting night to lead Slovenia to a win on Thursday.Doncic is currently in the mix as a top-5 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Depending on the ping pong balls, that means he could land in either Phoenix, Philly, Boston, Los Angeles, Orlando or even Cleveland. The NBA has had a tanking issue, and commissioner Adam Silver is exploring measures to prevent teams from doing so for lottery incentives.
That plan isn’t set to affect the 2018 draft, though, and if Doncic continues playing at this level, we may see more and more teams shutting down the vets in the second half of the season.
Spain may be washed
There was a time Spain was the one country Team USA didn’t want to run into in the Olympics. That’s because they had more NBA talent than any country outside of the United States.
But Spain’s firepower wasn’t enough for Doncic, Dragic and Anthony Randolph. Marc and Pau Gasol combined for 28 points. Ricky Rubio added 13 on 5-of-12 shooting, and Willy and Juancho Hernangomez brought 12 points of their own.
It wasn’t enough.
The national team was missing a few usual suspects. Ex-NBA guard Rudy Fernandez didn’t compete in Eurobasket, nor did Nikola Mirotic, Jose Calderon or Sergio Llull (Team USA competed in and won the FIBA Americup with a G-League team coached by Jeff Van Gundy, so it’s customary to send the B-team this early).
But getting handled by Slovenia is not a good look for Spain, no matter who showed up.
Doncic vs. Rubio was one-sided
The last time Europe sent a star to the NBA, it was Ricky Rubio who wowed American crowds with his flashy passing. Rubio’s had a rough go in the NBA — he hasn’t been able to stay healthy, nor has he added a consistent perimeter jump shot to his repertoire — and finds himself on a new team this year.
(You can argue Kristaps Porzingis as a star from Europe, but we didn’t know what we were getting out of KP on draft night. We knew what Rubio was capable of.)
Doncic looked light years better than Rubio at only age 18.
It’s early, and it isn’t against legitimate NBA competition (though Spain’s roster says otherwise), but Slovenia has a star on its hands. And if Doncic can seal the deal and deliver Slovenia a Eurobasket championship on Sunday, the case for him as not just a top-five pick, but possibly the No. 1 pick in 2018, may have another point.