Meeting NBA players is a lifetime experience. Playing against them makes it sweeter. For AJ Slaughter, playing against tournament favorites and one of the world’s best players is a surreal moment that would stay with him until the end.
“This is something that we’ll remember for our lifetime”
Basketball fans were stunned after Poland eliminated the defending champs in Slovenia, led by NBA superstar Luka Doncic. While most didn’t see it coming, the Poland national team believed otherwise. The 13th ranked team had no business beating the 5th rank team, but that’s the beauty of EuroBasket: no team is safe from upsets.
AJ Slaughter, who had to ask Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic for a photo op with his son before the semifinals, claimed it was an experience of a lifetime.
“This is something that we’ll remember for our lifetime. Not many people thought we’ll beat Slovenia. We made history.” AJ said.
The Poland guard finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and four assists in an inspired effort. Although AJ may have inflicted pain on his idol Doncic, when the game is on the line, it’s business as usual.
Many thought Slovenia was on its way to the finals, with Poland seemingly an easy opponent. The Mavs star was playing like a man on a mission, and anything lower than a finals stint would be considered a letdown for Slovenia.
Poland’s Cinderella Run comes to a stop
The players made history, and they all felt they were on Cloud 9, but France gave them a reality check. The Cinderella Run was stopped via a 95-54 beating at the hands of Rudy Gobert and other French national players. It was devastating, but if there was any consolation for Slaughter and his teammates, it was that Poland earned the respect of the basketball universe.
It was a learning experience for the Poland team and a learning and humbling experience for Doncic and his teammates. Luka owned up to the shortcomings and vowed to bounce back stronger. The EuroBasket tournament is all about tactics, strategies, and systems. Having NBA-caliber players isn’t going to help if the play style remains individualistic, like in the U.S.