The Slovenia Times

Slovenia eyeing top eight in home court EuroBasket Women


Slovenia and Israel will co-host the 2023 European Women Basketball Championship from 15 to 25 June, with the knock-out stage held in Stožice Arena in Ljubljana. The Slovenian team's goal at their fourth EuroBasket is to make it to the quarter-finals for the first time.

The 39th tournament will feature 16 national teams, including defending champions Serbia. Tel Aviv will host two of the four groups in the preliminary round, and games in the other two will be held in Ljubljana. The knockout stage, from the quarter-finals onwards, will take place in Slovenia's capital.

Slovenia will play in Ljubljana in Group C, together with Great Britain, Germany and France. Breaking the ice, they will face Great Britain on 15 June, a day later they will play Germany, and on 18 June they will attempt to best France, who are the only team in the group ranked higher in FIBA rankings than Slovenia. France rank 6th and Slovenia 19th.

On top of getting the opportunity to pursue their EuroBasket dreams in front of home crowd, Slovenia are given the chance to secure a ticket to next year's Olympic Games, since the six highest-ranked teams from the competition will take part in the Olympic qualification tournament in February.

Slovenia's best EuroBasket result so far was tenth place in the 2019 and 2021 competitions. In the run-up to this year's championship the team played seven games and won four of them.

The team's line-up is not as strong as in previous EuroBaskets though, since the team's long-time captain Nika Barič will be absent. In addition, Maruša Seničar will skip the championship due to a knee injury, and despite plans to do so, the team has failed to naturalise a foreign player to fill the gap.

Coaching the team since 2021, Georgios Dikaiulakos, a Greek expert who is considered one of the greatest in women's basketball in Europe, remains optimistic in his belief that Slovenia can achieve a good result. Dikaiulakos was voted the best coach in the EuroLeague this year.

Reluctant to talk about their goals, Slovenia note they are an atypical team lacking really tall players, but stress they will make up for this with leaving it all on the court.

New team captain Teja Oblak, who is the older sister of one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Jan Oblak, told a recent press conference that the atmosphere among the players was great.

"I hope that this will shine through during the games and that the fans will recognise it. I want us to enjoy the championship with our relaxed attitude and playfulness, and I wish that at the end of the day we will have nothing to blame ourselves for. We're ready and we can't wait for it all to start."

Head coach Dikaiulakos said all the players had given their best in training and they were now ready for the tournament. "The more experienced players have done a great job especially, having taken the younger generation under their wing."

The favourites for the 2023 title are France, Spain, Belgium and Serbia, the four teams that dominated the previous three EuroBaskets.

This is the second time Slovenia hosts a EuroBasket, after the country organised the European basketball championship for men in 2013.


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