It was a battle of size vs. speed, but in the end, Slovenia hoisted the trophy after defeating Serbia in the EuroBasket 2017 Final, 93-85, in the tournament’s most exciting game. The game went down to the wire, with Slovenia extending multiple double-digit leads before Serbia clawed back time and time again.
But Slovenia became vulnerable once 18-year-old sensation Luka Doncic exited with an ankle injury. That opened the door for a late-game comeback, one that seemed promising for Serbia when Goran Dragic left late in the fourth quarter.
Slovenia was able to hold on, thanks to a solid supporting cast and Anthony Randolph’s late bucket. Here are three takeaways from the EuroBasket Final.
Slovenia wasn’t supposed to be here
Think about this: Slovenia’s never made it past the semifinals. Ever. Instead of sticking to the status quo, it became the first team since 1995 to go undefeated in EuroBasket play and win the Final.
Slovenia defeated Ukraine in the Round of 16, Kristaps Porzingis and Latvia in the quarterfinals, the Gasol brothers and a loaded Spain in the semifinals, and now Serbia in the Final. What a journey for a country that has never been the No. 1 basketball team in Europe.
Goran Dragic went beast mode for three quarters
Slovenia had only one NBA player on its roster, but Goran Dragic looked like an All-Star against Serbia on Sunday. Dragic put up 35 points on 12-of-22 shooting in the first three quarters to put the defense on its heels.
But in the fourth quarter, Dragic looked gassed. He couldn’t buy a bucket and exited the game with under four minutes to go after suffering what appeared to be some serious cramping.
For the 31-year-old Dragic, this could be his final EuroBasket competition. Even though he vanished late in the game, it’s safe to say he went out with a bang.
Luka Doncic looked good ... and then he got hurt
Doncic had eight points and seven rebounds and was key to a Slovenian team that built a double-digit lead over Serbia. He even had one incredible highlight, grabbing a rebound and going coast-to-coast before a picture perfect dunk in transition.
But then Doncic suffered an apparent high ankle sprain in the third quarter that cut his EuroBasket Final short, and Slovenia was left in disarray. After Doncic’s injury, Serbia raged back to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
That’s how good this kid is going to be, so long as this injury isn’t worse than anticipated. Doncic is expected to be a franchise-altering talent taken in the top five of the 2018 NBA draft. And although he finished with a modest stat line, his EuroBasket Final was a glimpse into his promising future.