FIBA: Jokic defeats Giannis in duel of MVP’s

Nikola Jockic helped Serbia win a much-needed victory over Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece in a clash of back-to-back MVPs during a FIBA ​​World Cup qualifying match Thursday in Belgrade.

The hosts cruised to a thrilling 100-94 victory in extra time despite Antetokounmpo’s 40 points, the most in European World Cup qualifying history.

Jokic, however, had the last laugh, pacing Serbia with 29 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. The reigning MVP wowed the home crowd late in the fourth quarter, hitting a single-leg jumper from the 3-point line with Antetokounmpo on him to give Serbia an 8-point lead with less than two minutes remaining.

Greece came from behind and former Oregon standout, Tyler Dorsey, nailed a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. Jokic proceeded to dominate the extra frame, hitting back-to-back baskets over Antetokounmpo at the post to give Serbia a 6-point lead that they would not relinquish.

Antetokounmpo became the first player to reach the 40-point mark in European qualifying history, shooting 14-for-25 from the field to go along with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. However, Serbia’s depth proved to be the difference, as the hosts complemented Jokic’s effort with 33 points off the bench.

The win was vital for Serbia, which is now 2-3 in the qualifying tournament. They are tied with Turkey for fourth place in a group that also includes Greece, Latvia, Belgium and Great Britain. Latvia leads the group with 9 points, followed by Greece and Belgium with 8. Only the top three teams in the group will qualify for next year’s World Cup.

In another European qualifier on Thursday, the Dallas Mavericks star, Luka Doncić, led Slovenia to a landslide victory over Estonia, posting a near triple-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. Slovenia is currently third in their group with 12 points, two games ahead of fourth place Israel.

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FIBA: Jokic defeats Giannis in duel of MVP’s