Depleted Slovenia Start Warm-up Matches ahead of EuroBasket


Slovenia will start the series of warm-up matches against New Zealand in the town of Kidričevo near Ptuj (NE), and will play another six matches at home and four on the road before heading for Croatia's Zagreb for the EuroBasket.

The national team is heavily depleted as the bulk of the players that constituted the team's staple in major tournaments in the recent years are out either due to injury or personal reasons, the biggest name being Goran Dragić of the Miami Heat.

Slovenia's best player recently signed a US$86m five-year deal with the Florida team and had already suggested before signing the deal that he would not play at the EuroBasket, also because he is expected to become a father for the second time soon.

His younger brother Zoran Dragić, the only other Slovenian NBA player, will meanwhile be available to the team that will also not get the services of veteran guard Domen Lorbek, centre Mirza Begić, the Murić brothers and sturdy centre Gašper Vidmar.

Slovenia's roster for the warm-up matches features 17 players, twelve of whom will make the final cut for the EuroBasket. Head coach Jure Zdovc says that all twelve spots remain open and that "any of them can make it to the European championship".

Zoran Dragić is expected to be the leader of the team that also includes veterans Uroš Slokar, Jure Balažič and Miha Zupan and up-and-coming Klemen Prepelič, Jaka Blažič and Luka Rupnik.

Slovenia will play in the preliminary group C of the EuroBasket in Croatia's Zagreb, which also features hosts Croatia, the Netherlands, Macedonia, Greece and Georgia.

The tournament will be played between 5 and 20 September 2015, with the hosting of the group stage divided among Croatia, France, Germany and Latvia. The knock-out round and the finals will played in France's Lille.

Slovenia booked a ticket to this year's European basketball championships by virtue of taking fifth place at the EuroBasket 2013, which was hosted by Slovenia.