Slovenia lose to Finland twice in World Cup 2023 qualifiers

Koper – Slovenia lost 79:83 to Finland in the latest qualifier for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Koper on Monday. This was the second defeat to Finland in several days as the previous match between the same opponents in the first round of qualification last Friday also ended with Slovenia’s loss.

Slovenia, the world’s fourth-ranked national team, which is currently missing three players, including its main star Luka Dončić, seemed to be in disarray in the first half of yesterday’s game and when the buzzer sounded to announce halftime, they were some 20 points behind Finland, which were also missing some key players.

In a packed Bonifika Arena, Slovenia stepped up in the second half and had a few chances to turn the situation around, being just a few points short of a tie or a win, but the lack of efficient offense and too many missed three-pointers and free throws meant Finland won another game and is now the top-ranked team in group C.

On Friday, Slovenia lost 76:86 against Finland in what was it first defeat in the qualification.

Slovenia currently ranks second, having two wins and two defeats after four qualification matches, same as the third-placed Sweden. Last November, Slovenia beat Croatia as well as Sweden. Looking ahead, at the end of June and the start of July, Slovenia will play Croatia at home and Sweden in an away game.

Three teams from each group of four countries will make it to the second round of the qualification.

Slovenia’s head coach Aleksander Sekulić said the last two games were a good lesson. “We expected the game to be difficult, but certainly not that we would play so badly in the first half. (…) We played much better in the second half, but in the end we again lacked focus and we were left without two important points.”

“The goal remains to qualify for the World Cup,” added shooting guard Jaka Blažič, who also pointed out that the reigning European champion should not have let the opponent score 52 points in the first half while also having home court advantage.