MANILA, Philippines—Slovenia showed utmost respect to one of Italy’s biggest stars Luigi Datome, who played his final game for the Azzurri on Saturday in the Fiba World Cup at Mall of Asia Arena.
In a class act, the Slovenians joined in saluting Datome when was subbed out at the 3:26 mark of the fourth quarter and got a standing ovation from the crowd.
Datome also took the time to hug Slovenia’s players, including Luka Doncic, and his Italian teammates.
“It’s one of the incredible kind gestures I received this summer,” said Datome. “I thank the fans for the applause and to the opponents for stopping the game to show respect.
“It’s unbelievable what he did. He’s one of the best, not just in Italy but also in Europe and the world, he’s amazing. I’m really happy for him,” said Slovenia guard Gregor Hrovat.
Datome had a point and a couple of rebounds in 10 minutes of action for Italy, which finished eighth place after an 89-85 loss to Slovenia in their classification match.
In his final tour of duty for Italy, the 35-year-old Datome played a key role in helping the Azzurri return to the World Cup quarterfinal after 25 years, averaging 7.8 points per game. He was 10 crucial points in Italy’s big comeback win over Serbia in the second round of the tournament.
“He played great in this World Cup and showed why he is still one of the best players and I want to congratulate him for the amazing career,” said Hrovat.
Datome played in the NBA for the Detroit Pistons from 2013 to 2015 and also the Boston Celtics in 2015.
While his career didn’t flourish in the NBA, Datome became a legend regardless as a EuroLeague champion and a three-time winner in top-tier leagues in Italy and Turkey.
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