Bulls star Vucevic narrowly loses to Doncic in 2023 World Cup exhibition

Luka Doncic, Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls, 2023 FIBA World Cup (Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Luka Doncic, Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls, 2023 FIBA World Cup (Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) /

Without any American representatives on this year’s rendition of the Team USA roster, Chicago Bulls fans must instead tune into Montenegro’s games if they want to watch one of their own at the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Nikola Vucevic will be leading his home country in just their second World Cup appearance after qualifying for the event for the first time in 2019.

Although group stage games don’t begin until August 25, training camp is already well underway, including exhibition games against rival teams to warm up for the real deal. Vucevic didn’t get the luxury of an easy opponent to get the wheels rolling, as they took on Luka Doncic and the Slovenian national team in their first exhibition of the event.

The game ended up being surprisingly close, but Montenegro eventually conceded a 104-100 loss in the end. It’s possible Slovenia is having difficulty adjusting to life without roster mainstay point guard Goran Dragic, but after winning bronze at the 2020 Olympics and qualifying for the semi-finals in 2022 EuroBasket, Slovenia is certainly no easy matchup whether they have Dragic or not.

In a duel between two NBA stars, the Luka Doncic of the Mavericks prevailed over the Bulls’ Nikola Vucevic.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to escape the feeling that this could have been a win for Montenegro had Vucevic played better. He struggled mightily on offense, scoring 14 points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field while his teammates Vladimir Mihailovic and Dino Radoncic carried the scoring load with 47 points on 17-for-29 shooting. If there’s a silver lining to be had here, however, it’s that Vooch reeled in an impressive 14 rebounds and dished out 6 assists, something I’d love to see him continue doing when he’s back in a Bulls uniform.

Meanwhile, Doncic looked every bit of the NBA star we Bulls fans try to convince ourselves Vooch is. He made things look all too easy out there, posting a triple double with 34 points, 14 assists, and 13 rebounds. The next highest scorer for Slovenia contributed half of Doncic’s total at 17, and no other player scored more than 10 points, truly highlighting how much of a one-man army Luka is.

Thankfully, if there was ever a time to submit a poor performance, it’s certainly in the exhibition warm-up games. At the end of the day, this loss means little as long as Vucevic uses the opportunity to get his feet under him and help Montenegro improve upon their poor 1-4 performance in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

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