October 24, 2017

Slovenia wins Eurobasket 2017; defeats Serbia 93-85 in Championship

2017/09/17 2:37 pm 2:37 pm2:37 pm0 0 comments

Slovenia defeated Serbia 93-85 in the EuroBasket 2017 finale giving the small Eastern European country their first ever Eurobasket championship. The high scoring game was an entertaining one which see-sawed between the two teams and came down to the final minutes. Slovenia was able to establish several double-digit leads throughout the game and Serbia fought themselves back into the game over and over, but was unable to get over that final hump.

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Thanks to Goran Dragic‘s big game; he scored 35 points on 12-of-22 shooting in the first three quarters before the Serbian team clamped down on him in the fourth (as well as what seemed to be a leg cramp with four minutes to go). The lefty guard’s attack game as well as an Anthony Randolph late basket, Slovenia finally brought home the coveted Eurobasket trophy after never making it past the semifinals.

Dragic was especially effective in the second quarter, scoring 20 of Slovenia’s 36 points. His relentless attacking gave the underdogs a 56-47 lead at halftime.

Slovenia’s New and Old Faces

The 18-year old Slovenian NBA prospect Luka Doncic, and future of the Slovenian National Team, scored eight points and pulled in seven rebounds as the Slovenian team put up their first double-digit lead. In one sequence, Doncic pulled down a rebound, dribbled it down for crowd-pleasing dunk. Then in the third, Doncic went down with a leg injury and wouldn’t return. Serbia took the opportunity to chip back and ultimately take a lead in the fourth quarter.

As you know by now, Serbia would ultimately come up short of their goal. Dragic wouldn’t be denied and he was rewarded with the tournament’s MVP trophy.

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Slovenia’s Klemen Prepelic was the team’s second leading scorer with 21 points and Randolph contributed 11 points for his adopted team. Future NBA’er Bogdan Bogdanovic led Serbia with 22 points and added 5 assists. Milan Macvan added 18 points and five rebounds to keep pace for Serbia.

In defeating Ukraine in the first round, then a dominate Kristaps Prozingis and Latvia in the second round, they then upended a heavily-favorited Spanish team in a surprisingly lopsided game in the semi-finals. Then they took on a much larger Serbia team and prevailed.

Slovenia’s path to the championship and title cannot be fully understood without this context: More than 25 years ago, at the 1991 Eurobasket, the players from both Slovenia and Serbia played on one team together — the former Yugoslavia.

With a perfect record going into the tournament and winning it, they’re the first team to go undefeated in EuroBasket play since 1995. That’s a stretch of ten Eurobasket tournaments. Already an all-star caliber player in the NBA with the Miami Heat, this championship win all but cements the 31-year-old Dragic as a European superstar and definitely a legend in Slovenian basketball lore.

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