The 2022 FIBA Eurobasket kicked off a few days ago, and the competition has been nothing short of spectacular. Some of the best players in the world represent their countries, and great games have been a joy to watch for basketball fans worldwide. But in all the passion and fighting spirit, tempers have flared, and there have been a few controversial storylines. Most recently, superstar Luka Doncic has been getting heavy criticism from Bosnian fans.
The Balkan derby that took place yesterday in Köln, Germany, between the favorites Slovenia and underdogs Bosnia and Herzegovina was destined to be an exciting battle, and it most definitely delivered. The hard-headed and fighting Bosnians would display a physical and team style of play that would lead them to a notable victory over the favored Slovenians.
This would end a huge EuroBasket winning streak for the defending champions, as not many people expected BiH to upset them. But Jusuf Nurkic and co. were on fire while locking down the superstar Luka Doncic on the other end of the floor. Luka couldn't buy a jumper, scoring 16 points, but on poor efficiency, especially from deep( 8/18 FG, 0/8 3PT).
Fellow NBA player Goran Dragic(20p,5r,6a) and Vlatko Cancar(22p) would pick up the slack, but it wasn't enough to beat the inspired Bosnians led by NBA player Jusuf Nurkic(12p,9,4a), former NBA player Dzanan Musa(22p,5r,5a)and the naturalized American John Roberson (23p,7 3-PM).
It was a great win that could very well push Bosnia and Herzegovina to the knockout phase in the so-called "group of death," while the high-flying Slovenians got that reality check that could benefit them in the long run.
Luka gets heat
Still, one of the main stories after the game, amidst the frantic celebration from the Bosnians, was Luka Doncic getting heavily attacked by opposing fans. In one of the last timeouts, a frustrated Doncic would throw a water bottle and say something along the lines of: "Who are we losing to!?", implying BiH is much inferior in comparison to Slovenia.
That would obviously cause rage among Bosnian fans who bashed Luka for his words. That, mixed with his constant complaining with the referees, has made Doncic one of the most hated players in the tournament. After all, we are talking about a hero of a lot of young basketball players in the whole region of ex-Yugoslavia, as this will probably cost him some fans.
Being the competitor he is, Luka definitely just said it in the heat of the moment with no ill-intent, but he has to choose his words more carefully and be aware that everything can be seen and heard in today's era. After all, the whole Balkan region is full of supporters of Luka in his NBA journey, and that kind of attitude won't keep it that way.