2023 FIBA World Cup

World Cup Standouts, Day 15: Luka ends on high note

Luka Doncic and Slovenia blunts the blow of back-to-back losses with a win over Italy, while Latvia breaks new ground at the FIBA World Cup.

Luka Doncic came two assists shy of registering the first triple-double in World Cup history.

Saturday featured the final two classification games of the 2023 FIBA World Cup before Sunday’s teams vie for top-three placement. Luka Doncic was the individual headliner, leading Slovenia past Italy 89-85 to secure seventh place and a positive finish after disappointing back-to-back losses to Canada and Lithuania.

Latvia, meanwhile, capped a groundbreaking tournament run with a 98-63 rout of established FIBA power Lithuania. The Baltic nation cashed in on its first ever World Cup appearance with a 6-2 record and placing fifth-place.

Here’s a look at who stood out during the Saturday’s action.

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Luka Doncic, Slovenia

After visibly disheartening defeats to Canada and Lithuania, Doncic ensured Slovenia exited the tourney on its own terms. The Dallas Mavericks superstar nearly logged the first triple-double in World Cup history, finishing with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists while shooting 8-for-15 from the field and 8-for-10 from the free throw line. Though the Slovenians no doubt hoped make the medal round, their seventh-place finish continues its golden era of international basketball following a fourth-place finish in the 2021 Olympics and winning the gold medal at EuroBasket 2017.

Arturs Kurucs, Latvia

Deep-roster experts may recognize the surname; Arturs Kurucs is the brother of former NBA forward Rodions Kurucs, who played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets. Arturs was the shot-making star on Saturday, pouring in 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting from 3-point range to go with four rebounds and two assists in just over 20 minutes.

Arturs Zagars, Latvia

Latvia’s maiden run in this tournament was fueled by its point guard, Zagars. He dished out a World Cup record 17 assists in Saturday’s fifth-place win over Lithuania, the country where Zagars played professionally last season. Still just 23 years old, Zagars is and should continue to be one of the faces of Latvia’s suddenly blossoming basketball program for years to come.