The Slovenia Times

Slovenia in basketball frenzy as national team wins Euro gold


The largest square in the capital was bursting at the seams as it was actually too little to hold everybody who wanted to see in person the golden basketballers who defeated the European powerhouse Serbia in the final.

The players were wearing the gold medals around their necks and brought the EuroBasket trophy with themselves to the delight of the crowd, which was not bothered by the rainy weather and had waited for hours to see and greet the champions.

Team captain Goran Dragić was greeted with the cheers of "MVP! MVP! MVP!", as he indeed was the most valuable player at the EuroBasket. He said "we can be very proud that we have such a gem here in Slovenia", referring to Luka Dončić.

The teenage prodigy Dončić said he was a bit surprised when he heard his name among the top five players at the tournament "considering which players played at the entire EuroBasket".

Head coach Igor Kokoškov draw a loud cheer as he took the mic, saying that Slovenia should be "proud of these guys who represented Slovenian basketball and all of you." He said he hoped that the success will inspire children to train basketball.

The golden basketball players were already welcomed by a big crowd as they landed at Ljubljana airport from Istanbul some two hours before the main party.

There is wide agreement that Slovenia took the EuroBasket gold medal not only with the most effective but also the most attractive game style at the championships, breaking 15 opponents in a row with a playing pace reminiscent of the NBA.

Slovenia's amazing streak of nine wins without a loss at the EuroBasket 2017 was also the main story for all three national papers this morning, with the commentators celebrating "historic" victory in last night's finals in Istanbul.

"Not only golden - magnificent", goes Delo, while Dnevnik and Večer splash with GOLD and "Gold is ours", respectively.

The feat also made a mark in foreign media. Reporting on the defeat of their team, Serbia's Tanjug wrote that Slovenia secured a decisive lead under the guide of phenomenal Goran Dragić to win their first gold medal in history.

President Borut Pahor announced that he would decorate the team with the Golden Order for Services. The team managed an extraordinary feat, is furthering Slovenia's profile in the global sports arena, is strengthening national pride and is inspiring people, he argued.

Prime Minister Miro Cerar, who was in Istanbul for the match and who handed the players the gold medals at Sunday's ceremony, tweeted: "CHAAAAMPIOOOONS!!! AMAZING! How proud I am of you #myteam and all who cheered for you! What a wonderful day! #EuroBasket2017."

The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport has meanwhile decided to donate EUR 67,000 to the Slovenian Basketball Association for the "achievement which provided for unbelievable promotion of Slovenia and entered it in sport history with golden letters".

A number of former Slovenian professional athletes and other celebrities heaped praise on the basketball team, with football legend Branko Oblak, for instance, labelling it the biggest sport success in the nation's history and calling Dragić a basketball "Lionel Messi".

Film director and author Goran Vojnović, a former basketball player himself, said that he would like to see Slovenia's two best players at the tournament, Dragić and Dončić, get a monument in Congress Square.


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