The Slovenia Times

Slovenia riding high after EuroBasket semi-finals win


 The developments also got to NBA star Goran Dragić, who put his announced retirement from the national team in question.

Dragić, who is the main candidate for the MVP title at the tournament with an average of 21 points, was asked at the press conference after the historic game if he would reconsider his retirement and answered with: "If Igor stays, I stay."

The 31-year-old Miami Heat member was sitting next to the head coach of the Slovenian team Igor Kokoškov, whom a commentator proposed for the country's president after the 92:72 win against Spain.

Dragić downplayed the statement slightly later, saying he first needs to "sleep things over, wait until the end of the championships, get some rest and calm down". "We'll see how to proceed then. My family will definitely also have a word," he said.

While commentators are heaping praise on the Slovenian players and 45-year-old Kokoškov, who has a wealth of coaching experience from the NBA and has won all of his 14 games with Slovenia so far, the team and public share the view Slovenia are ready for gold.

"Only the final game is left. We are going for the gold...The Americans say: bring your game, not your name," Dragić summarised the team's attitude, while speaking of "the highpoint of my career".

The optimism ahead of Sunday's final - to be played either against Serbia or Russia - is shared by teenage prodigy Luka Dončić, who has made it to the final at his first big tournament for Slovenia.

"Defence is the secret of this team. Once we start playing real defence, we're unbeatable. Five players had double scoring digits today. We were selfless," said the 18-year-old, who is averaging 15.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists at the EuroBasket.

Dončić also highlighted the 1,200 Slovenians who came to Istanbul to back the team against Spain and he hopes that even more will come for the final. Indeed, additional flight options are being organised to accommodate the high demand among fans in Slovenia.

The team's feat was the main front-page story in all three large daily newspapers in Slovenia, while it also left a mark in Spain where commentators speak of the end a decade-long dominance of the Spanish team. They herald a bright future for Slovenia and in particular for Dončić, who is already a star of the Real Madrid team.


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