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Slovenia edges Italy, 89-85

Luka Doncic and Slovenia find a way to win in their last game in the FIBA World Cup this year. (Photo, FIBA)

Slovenia survived a furious fightback by Italy, 89-85, to wrap up its campaign in the FIBA Basketball World Cup at seventh place on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Jakob Cebasek drilled in the go-ahead triple off an assist by Luka Doncic with 40 seconds left while Gregor Hrovat nailed a couple of insurance free throws as the Slovenians arrested a three-game slide and salvaged some measure of pride before heading for home.

Doncic came two assists shy of a triple-double after the Dallas Mavericks guard tallied 29 points on 8-of-15 field goal shooting with 10 rebounds and three steals for Slovenia, which looked headed to a deep run in the tournament after stringing four straight wins only to get blown out in the next three.

Mike Tobey had 12 points while Zoran Dragic got 10 for Slovenia, which went up, 67-52, with 1:02 left in the third quarter after Ziga Samar sank two free throws.

Fueled by their desire to give retiring team captain Luigi Datome a fitting parting gift as a reward for his service, the Italians overhauled a 15-point third quarter deficit with a huge fourth quarter rally.

The world No. 10 squad briefly held the lead, 85-83, off a Giampalo Ricci tip in with 1:04 remaining. Cebasek then spoiled Italy’s part with a cold-blooded trey.

Datome, who was subbed out in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter in his 203rd cap for Italy, received a warm hug and congratulations from his team and loud applause from the crowd as he walked back to the bench.

The 35-year-old forward had one point in 10 and a half minutes of action.

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