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Luka Dončić leads Slovenia to first Olympic basketball berth

DALLAS Mavericks star Luka Dončić scored 31 points Sunday to lead Slovenia to a 96-85 win over Lithuania, propelling his home nation to its first-ever Olympics basketball tournament.

Dončić, 22, also had 11 rebounds and 13 assists to register a triple-double. He was named the MVP of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, held in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Because Slovenia didn’t qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, the country had to enter the last-chance tournament to earn a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Games, which will begin later this month.

Dončić’s boss, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, was among the first people to congratulate him and all of Slovenia on the “great win.”

Slovenia’s win had to be a stunner in Lithuania. The national team has been an international power since the country split from the Soviet Union and first competed as an independent nation in the Barcelona Games in 1992.

The nearly 30-year streak in the Olympics for Lithuania was the longest of any European nation. Lithuania joined the United States as the only men’s basketball teams to reach the quarterfinals of the Olympics since Barcelona.

Team Lithuania won the bronze medal in 1992, its first of three-place finishes in a row.

The Lithuanian roster included Dončić’s NBA peers Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valančiūnas. — Reuters

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