Luka Doncic argued with the referees all night. And that’s why he wasn’t around in the final minutes, as Canada clinched a trip to the Basketball World Cup semifinals.
“It’s an honor,” Gilgeous-Alexander said after Canada’s first World Cup semifinal berth was clinched. “It’s an honor in itself. But we’re not satisfied.”
Doncic had 26 points for Slovenia, but was ejected with 6:37 left after picking up his second technical of the game — both of them coming after he argued with referees over calls or non-calls. Slovenia was down by 15 at the time and wound up getting within nine shortly after Doncic departed, but it wasn’t enough.
Doncic returned to the court, in flip-flops instead of sneakers, as time expired to congratulate Canadian players.
“Playing for the national team, it’s a lot of emotions. A lot of times I don’t control myself, which I’ve been having problems with,” Doncic said. “But you know, the referees told one of the guys they’re not going to call a foul on him because he’s coming at us. I think this is not fair. I know I complained a lot, but I don’t think it’s fair. They’ve been playing very physical with me, but if you say that, it’s not fair.”
Canada — which saw Dillon Brooks ejected shortly before Doncic departed, also after a technical — will play Serbia in Friday’s semifinals, with the U.S. and Germany set to meet in the other semifinal. The winners of those games will play for the World Cup on Sunday night.
Brooks met his teammates in the hallway by the locker room after the game, wearing boxing gloves and punching the air. Indeed, Canada has been a fighter at this World Cup. And Doncic — who lauded the way Brooks played — didn’t have a chance to land a knockout blow.
“Guys like him, they can get hot. … But we wore him down,” Gilgeous-Alexander said.