The Slovenia Times

Slovenian basketballers get opponents for Olympic qualifying


The event in the Lithuanian city is one of the four qualifying tournaments for the 2020 Summer Olympics, in addition to those in Croatia's Split, Serbia'a Belgrade and Canada's Victoria.

It will feature two groups, with Slovenia playing in Group B and Lithuania, Venezuela and South Korea in Group A.

Slovenia will start the tournament on 24 June 2020 against Angola, followed by Poland on the next day.

Should Slovenia win one of the first two places in the group, they will play in the semi-finals with one of the two best teams from the other group playing in Kaunas.

Only the winners of the four tournaments will qualify for the Olympics, where they will join the hosts Japan, China, Nigeria, Argentina, the US, Iran, France, Spain and Australia.

Commenting on Wednesday's draw in Geneva, Slovenia's head coach Rado Trifunović said he was satisfied that the team had gotten Lithuania instead of Serbia or Canada.

"We certainly have the wish to qualify for the Olympics, and we have a chance, but we have to go there with the full squad and healthy."

Slovenia's Edo Murić believes that Lithuania is the main favourite of the tournament. "We will have to show our best face, but more things will be clearer when we know for sure who bears the national team jersey."

Slovenia have a 5:12 record against the powerhouse Lithuania, while the remaining four teams have beaten them only once combined, with the sole loss coming at the hands of Poland at the 2013 EuroBasket.

The qualifying tournament is a consolation of sorts for Slovenia, which missed the recent FIFA World Cup in China, at which they would have a chance to qualify for Tokyo as one of the top two European teams.

Slovenia are the reigning European champions, as they won the EuroBasket tournament in 2017. They failed to qualify for the World Cup due to the changed qualification schedule, which left the team without its biggest stars.


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