Munich, Germany. Goran Dragic made a comeback, and the Ljubljana stands were filled.
Luka Doncic Dragic Combine
The one-two punch of Dragic and Luka Doncic proved to be too much for Croatia’s roller derby opponents, and it was nothing short of fantastic.
Slovenia won the contest 97-69 and moved on to the second round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers. They are currently 3-2 and cannot be overtaken by Group C’s bottom-placed Croatia.
The Turning Point
the time Goran Dragic made the decision to try out for the national squad once more. Shortly after hoisting the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 championship trophy in Istanbul, the legendary team captain announced his retirement from the national team.
Five years later, he returned for one final victory lap alongside Luka Doncic.
The 36-year-old point guard opened the contest with his customary mid-range deception, and with each new offensive scheme by coach Aleksander Sekulic’s team, the arena seemed to shake.
They scored 33 points in the opening frame to take a 25-point advantage and never looked back.
Heroes Of The Game
Dragic had four rebounds, three assists, and 19 points in the final scoring total on 8 of 16 shooting. With 21 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds while wearing a jersey with Slovenia’s logo on the chest, Doncic was again on the verge of a triple-double.
Mike Tobey deserves honorable mention not only for his 16 points and 13 rebounds but also because Slovenia was in a lead of 27 points when he was on the court. Tobey’s statistics are even more spectacular when you consider that the opposition centers were Ivica Zubac and Ante Zizic.
Croatia’s Hollow Defense
Interior defense in Croatia was nonexistent. Slovenia reached 74 percent of its shots inside the arc after making 25 of its 34 two-point attempts. Croatia missed 11 free throws and made just 17 of its 38 shots from the same distance.
Slovenia is out and attempting to advance to the Second Round with a 4-2 record. If they win their final game against Sweden on the road, they would qualify for it.
Mario Hezonja led Croatia with 22 points, but they are at risk of being eliminated as they play Finland next in Rijeka.
Post Match Scenes
Croatia’s head coach Damir Mulaomerovic, in the post-match interview, congratulated Slovenia. He also said something in the lines of “They were great tonight, and their side had a unique atmosphere.
The first quarter saw the conclusion of the match. They had Luka and Goran, and they dominated the other players while we were unable to protect them. We were unable to catch our prey.”
“We have some of the best supporters in the world, and they created an amazing atmosphere. It was incredible to hear the constant cheering from the entire gym.
But with Croatia, we had to really be prepared. It was a difficult game, and they have strong players. We performed our duties.” said the hero of the game, Luca Doncic of Slovenia.
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