Sasa Doncic can’t help but smile when he tells the story about his son, Real Madrid’s star talent Luka Doncic, being a baby while he was still playing basketball professionally.
"Luka was always at my games when he was a kid. He was 3 months old when he went to his first game. He wasn't aware but game time was the only time when he didn't cry. Probably he enjoyed it already in that moment,” the elder Doncic recalled.
Sixteen years later, the only people crying when Luka Doncic is on the court are the opposing team’s players as they try to stop him. Despite turning just 16 years of age in late February and being two years younger than most of the competition, Doncic dominated the ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT and led Real Madrid to its first title in the competition’s history.
The guard was named ANGT MVP after averaging 11.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 4.8 fouls drawn per game. Doncic was second on Madrid in scoring, second in the event in assists and tied for third in rebounds. In the title game against 2014 champion Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade, Doncic collected 14 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists as Madrid won 73-70.
All everyone around the court was talking about was Luka: his drive to the basket, his amazing court vision and passing skills, his excellent outside shot and his high-flying style of play. When asked how he deals with all the talk from outsiders that he’s the next superstar in the game, he said: “I’m just working hard every day. And I hope I will be there.”
And where does he see his own game? “I like the game a lot. I like to play defense. I like to play offense.”
Doncic does open up a bit when his name is used in the same sentence as Ricky Rubio since Doncic this season became the youngest player ever to appear in a Spanish league game for Real Madrid.
“It’s great because Rubio is a great player. I like him a lot.”
His father Sasa said both he and Madrid are working hard to keep the young talent’s feet on the ground.
"I know everybody says great things about Luka. I am also very satisfied with his progress. But when we talk, I also try to tell him that everything is perfect today, but there is a next day tomorrow, with a chance to improve and get better,” Sasa Doncic said. “The people in Real Madrid are taking really good care of him. They don't let players think they are too good. They really control them well.”
Father Doncic said he is happy about the family’s decision back in 2012 to choose Madrid. “We had many offers, but had in mind what happened with Nikola Mirotic. He made me think it was a good idea to bring Luka to Madrid and that these people were really good at what they are doing with young players.”
Doncic noted Madrid’s tradition and stability helped in the decision. But most importantly, Luka liked it. “It was an easy decision,” he said.
Winning big competitions is part of the club’s make-up – also in football, which also means a lot to Luka, who often has posted pictures with his Real Madrid football brethren on his social media platforms.
Luka said he and the ANGT team got together to watch Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League semifinal return leg against Juventus Turin. “We didn’t like it because we are not in the final,” he said after Madrid lost out 3-2 on aggregate and Juventus entered the title game. “Now we have to win the [ANGT] title for sure.”
Doncic and his Madrid teammates did just that. And did so just hours before Los Blancos won the Turkish Airlines Euroleague crown for a great weekend for Real Madrid’s basketball club. With Doncic still coming of age, he could play a big part in more titles to come for his historic club in both competitions.