Coach Zdovc praises Suns Goran Dragi? after the win against Lithuania. Dragon gives his thoughts as the team leaves for Spain.

On Saturday Slovenia managed to beat Lithuania in the last friendly match at home. With 11.000 fans cheering for victory, Lithuania was nice enough not to push the last seconds for overtime. The final score was 74:72.

Here is a link to the full game stats and I found a video with Dragon highlights vs Lithuania.

Quotes from coach Zdovc after the match:

(Asked if the critiques he gave his player after the tournament in Lithuania helped):
As a coach I'm almost constantly dissatisfied, I mean in the end we are coaches, players are praised by their girlfriends, wives, friends. Coaches are the critics, who always want more, always want them to be 100%, which is difficult. So it's important to give your max, if you make a mistake you can quickly fix it.

(On Goran Dragi?)
Gogi needs time, it's not easy for him. He's under a lot of pressure, everybody is expecting a lot from him, and at the same time he didn't play for 4 months. Right now I'm really pleased with him, he is giving even more than I expected. Still, sometimes he gets carried away. So there are still some things that could be done better. And I'm back to wanting everything be perfect.. He can only continue to rise.

Last warm-up game against USA

The final preparation game USA:SLO will take place tomorrow in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at 8 pm Slovenian time. Slovenia probably won't get the win (unless Gogi goes full Dragon mode, Prepeli? is hot from 3 again, Lorbek or Zoki have 15pt and everyone plays defense the way Zdovc will be shouting). But it will be interesting to see how our young team plays against the NBA stars.

On Sunday the team gathered at the airport and Goran Dragic gave some statements before departing for Spain. The interview goes in circles about this upcoming USA:SLO match. Here is the jist:

(On playing against team USA)
You can't fix much in one game. We know they (USA) are the favourites, we just have to watch out for injuries since it's the last warm-up game, but it's still a good match. Maybe the youngsters will show what they can do, and in the future come across the ocean.

(On team USA)
Like you said, it's not the Dream Team, but they're definitely quality players who play on a high level. I heard even Lillard didn't make it and he was one of the best playmakers in the league. It will be hard, they are one of the favourites.

(On team goals)
With this team it (not getting to the quarterfinals) wouldn't be a failure. We have to be realistic, we don't have a team for the top spots. We won't be going there with a white flag, we'll fight as best as we can and we'll see what happens. Like you saw, we didn't play great in the last game, we're still a little lost, but we'll see how it goes in the world cup.

(On sounding kinda pessimistic - still being lost..)?
Well, it isn't a secret. You watched the games, just the way it is.

(On whether they can still fix things during this last week)
It's possible but hard to do, if we haven't fixed it in the last 2 months, it will be hard to do so (now).

He also adds; that the old team always had great chemistry, won the friendly matches and then lost when it counted. So perhaps now it will be the other way around. They got off to a bad start, but maybe they’ll come together when they need to. Optimism at its best I think.

I managed to get a photo of Gogi signing stuff and taking pics before the game vs Lithuania. He really has endless patience when it come to signing and taking selfies - hung out with fans for about 30 minutes before getting rushed away to prepare for the game. And he still stopped to take a(3) quick pic(s) with me. While waiting for that, Zoran Dragi? was being friendly and silly, poking this guy and then hiding behind me so I'd take the blame. He might just be more loveable than the Dragon. (Trivia: Gogi & Zoki will be roomies in Spain:)

Gogi_signing.0.jpg


As a bonus, here is Goran's chase down block from the games vs Brazil, someone was asking about it :)

Poll
As a Dragon/Suns fan, who will you be rooting for in the USA:SLO friendly match?

  123 votes | Results

Coach Zdovc praises Suns Goran Dragi? after the win against Lithuania. Dragon gives his thoughts as the team leaves for Spain.

On Saturday Slovenia managed to beat Lithuania in the last friendly match at home. With 11.000 fans cheering for victory, Lithuania was nice enough not to push the last seconds for overtime. The final score was 74:72.

Here is a link to the full game stats and I found a video with Dragon highlights vs Lithuania.

Quotes from coach Zdovc after the match:

(Asked if the critiques he gave his player after the tournament in Lithuania helped):
As a coach I'm almost constantly dissatisfied, I mean in the end we are coaches, players are praised by their girlfriends, wives, friends. Coaches are the critics, who always want more, always want them to be 100%, which is difficult. So it's important to give your max, if you make a mistake you can quickly fix it.

(On Goran Dragi?)
Gogi needs time, it's not easy for him. He's under a lot of pressure, everybody is expecting a lot from him, and at the same time he didn't play for 4 months. Right now I'm really pleased with him, he is giving even more than I expected. Still, sometimes he gets carried away. So there are still some things that could be done better. And I'm back to wanting everything be perfect.. He can only continue to rise.

Last warm-up game against USA

The final preparation game USA:SLO will take place tomorrow in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at 8 pm Slovenian time. Slovenia probably won't get the win (unless Gogi goes full Dragon mode, Prepeli? is hot from 3 again, Lorbek or Zoki have 15pt and everyone plays defense the way Zdovc will be shouting). But it will be interesting to see how our young team plays against the NBA stars.

On Sunday the team gathered at the airport and Goran Dragic gave some statements before departing for Spain. The interview goes in circles about this upcoming USA:SLO match. Here is the jist:

(On playing against team USA)
You can't fix much in one game. We know they (USA) are the favourites, we just have to watch out for injuries since it's the last warm-up game, but it's still a good match. Maybe the youngsters will show what they can do, and in the future come across the ocean.

(On team USA)
Like you said, it's not the Dream Team, but they're definitely quality players who play on a high level. I heard even Lillard didn't make it and he was one of the best playmakers in the league. It will be hard, they are one of the favourites.

(On team goals)
With this team it (not getting to the quarterfinals) wouldn't be a failure. We have to be realistic, we don't have a team for the top spots. We won't be going there with a white flag, we'll fight as best as we can and we'll see what happens. Like you saw, we didn't play great in the last game, we're still a little lost, but we'll see how it goes in the world cup.

(On sounding kinda pessimistic - still being lost..)?
Well, it isn't a secret. You watched the games, just the way it is.

(On whether they can still fix things during this last week)
It's possible but hard to do, if we haven't fixed it in the last 2 months, it will be hard to do so (now).

He also adds; that the old team always had great chemistry, won the friendly matches and then lost when it counted. So perhaps now it will be the other way around. They got off to a bad start, but maybe they’ll come together when they need to. Optimism at its best I think.

I managed to get a photo of Gogi signing stuff and taking pics before the game vs Lithuania. He really has endless patience when it come to signing and taking selfies - hung out with fans for about 30 minutes before getting rushed away to prepare for the game. And he still stopped to take a(3) quick pic(s) with me. While waiting for that, Zoran Dragi? was being friendly and silly, poking this guy and then hiding behind me so I'd take the blame. He might just be more loveable than the Dragon. (Trivia: Gogi & Zoki will be roomies in Spain:)

Gogi_signing.0.jpg


As a bonus, here is Goran's chase down block from the games vs Brazil, someone was asking about it :)

Poll
As a Dragon/Suns fan, who will you be rooting for in the USA:SLO friendly match?

  123 votes | Results

New week, new Madhouse.  What's hot these days?  You got your Eric Bledsoe negotiations being a trainwreck for the 4th month in a row, you've probably got some residual Galaxy of the Guardians references to make... Oh! The Emmys are this week!  Is True Detective being listed as a drama series instead of a miniseries a travesty or what?!

And something called "American Football" is gearing up in both the college and professional ranks.  Plenty of stuff to talk about.  Go Mad!

One step closer to that "C" word...

Wins Till A Championship: 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Playoff Record: 2-0

Playoff Points Per Game: 84.0 (4th)

Playoff Points Against: 70.0 (1st)

******************************

A tale of two games is about as on the nose a description for this series as you are going to find where the Phoenix Mercury dispatched the Los Angeles Sparks in two games. Game one was one of the tougher games of the season for the team that finished with the most wins in league history, while game two, was a slightly different story.

In game one the Mercury were thrown off their game by the Los Angeles Sparks, who, are not known for their defense, but on every play were in the face of the Mercury smothering them. It threw them off. Brittney Griner was a non-factor, the score was low, and the Mercury trailed with a few minutes to go at home. What kept them in the game were three things:

1) Penny Taylor was on top of her game. She was distributing the ball, rebounding, scoring timely buckets, and leading the offense. She was not sitting around waiting for things to figure themselves out.

2) DeWanna Bonner may not have stopped Candace Parker on every play (22 points on 19 shots), but limited her good looks, forced a ton of long two's, and limited her ability to get to the free-throw line with only four attempts. Her contest on the final offensive burst for the Sparks was as good as it gets, but then following that with the single toughest rebound of her career and two game sealing free-throws won the game.

3) Diana Taurasi went into video game mode hitting her first five three-pointers keeping the Mercury in the game single-handily from an offensive scoring perspective. She finished with 34/75 points for the team, which is 45.3% of the scoring load. That is a lot. Scoring 34 points is one thing and scoring 34 points on 15 attempts is another. Taurasi was aggressive going to the basket (8-8 free-throws) and dialed in from distance (6-9) making her impossible to defend.

Game two was a completely different story as the Mercury scored 30 first quarter points (35 in the first half of game one) and took a 19 point lead into the half on the road.

It was utter domination as Griner woke up 21 points including a thunderous dunk in transition setting the pace early. "I wasn't running myself out of the paint or letting them push me out so I was close to the rim. When you're close to the rim and 6'8", that helps," stated Griner after the game.

Taylor and Bonner chipped in on the perimeter with 17 and 11 points respectively. Erin Phillips came in and made a huge difference with her confidence, decision-making (5 assists), and steadiness. Those three allowed Taurasi to play only 23 minutes in this lopsided affair.

The Mercury ended the Sparks season abruptly and now take on the team that has ended the last three seasons in the WNBA Finals; the Minnesota Lynx.

******************************

Quotable...

"When we move the ball and get it through hands and have an aggressive mentality we're hard to guard, and I thought that was good for us tonight. D (Diana Taurasi) initiated it with the speed, but then the players around her: BG (Brittney Griner) getting deep, obviously Penny (Taylor) attacking on closeouts, DB (DeWanna Bonner), Candace Dupree, we just had so many weapons and it was hard for them to combat it." -- Head Coach Sandy Brondello after Game Two

******************************

...Two Greats Playing Like MVPs.

Through the 1990's we saw the "anything you can do I can do better" fad sweep across the nation with sports being the epicenter of it all. Flash forward to 2014 and the M.V.P. of the WNBA Maya Moore and the M.V.P. of the Phoenix Mercury Diana Taurasi are playing like M.V.P.'s for their respective teams in the playoffs leading to a collision in the Western Conference Finals.

In game one against the San Antonio Silver Stars Moore needed to be more giving the Lynx a scoring boost with 26 points (adding in 7 assists and 6 rebounds as well) showing off her ability to score with the bright lights on.

The next day in game one against the Los Angeles Sparks Taurasi finished with a playoff career-high 34 points (2 assists and 3 rebounds) scoring like a machine for the victory.

In game two for Moore she saw her teammates catching fire and became an M.V.P. in a different light going for 11 assists (with 16 points and 8 rebounds) leading the comeback win to advance her team. Then, yes, the very next day Taurasi saw her teammates were ready as she changed gears as well dishing out 7 assists (9 points 5 rebounds) in 15 less minutes than Moore as her team cruised to the most dominate win of the playoffs to date.

Each player is an M.V.P. in their own right. Taurasi led the best team in the WNBA and Moore had a statistically dominant season as Lynx stayed with the Mercury nearly all the way. They can both erupt for big scoring nights and run the offense allowing the plethora of talent around them to shine.

They are both remarkably unselfish for being great individual talents, which is exactly why they are going head-to-head for the right play in the WNBA Finals this week.

******************************

Western Conference Finals Schedule

Friday vs. Minnesota Lynx at 7:00 p.m. AZ Time

Sunday @ Minnesota Lynx at 12:30 p.m. AZ Time (NBA TV)

Tuesday vs. Minnesota Lynx at 7:00 p.m. AZ Time (NBA TV)

Playoff basketball is heating up as the summer winds down in the desert. That means the Phoenix Mercury are in the WNBA playoffs and looking for a third championship. On Sunday night the team swept...

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