Goran Dragic and Slovenia (Team Dragon) are playing their first world cup game against Australia today at 17.30 (SLO time).
Before we all get lost in the euphoria that is the FIBA World Cup, here is a translated interview (part of it anyway) the Dragon did recently with siol.net:
Was there a moment that you could say was key for your career?
If I look back at it, probably the European Championship in Spain in 2007. Especially that game against France, where I was covering Tony Parker very well. When I was face to face with Parker a lot of things changed for me. Phoenix Suns scouts were there. I wasn't aware they were watching. Later they told be this was when they took note of me. They followed me when with Olimpia and made first contact at an NBA camp in Treviso. That's how my story with the Suns began.
Can a Slovenian basketball player become a superstar in the NBA?
Sure, why not? You have to be the lead player in a team that is reaching for the highest spots - win the ring in the NBA. We will see.. (laughs)
What are the limits of Slovenian national team?
It's very hard to answer that question. It's hard to expect for us to e in the lead places. We have to be aware of something. We have quality basketball players, but Slovenia only has 2 million people. This is already phenomenal. Look at the Americans, with 300 million. They can make more teams and still excel. Basketball leaders have a database of players, that's why they're at the top spots. It's easier for them, they have more money, have more quality leagues. Younger players can get to a higher level faster. We have to come from small Slovenia and take a few steps before getting to quality leagues. Before you leave, you're 20, 21, 22. Then you have to get used to the new system, new league and you loose time comparing to the competition.
Is there a great desire (within you) to win a medal with Slovenia in the biggest basketball event?
Of course there is. I hope it happens.
This year, next year?
This year, next year, every year (laughs)
Do you dream of success or are you more realistic?
I dream. Always when going to sleep, I dream I get a medal or something.
Are you the main hero of the dreams, like a superhero in movies, cartoons?
I'm always the one to hit the decisive basket from the middle (laughs)
So can Gogi become a superhero in Spain?
Hard to say. We'll see when the last shot is deciding (laughs)
Which superhero was your favourite?
Superman was always popular. Then there is Batman. Everyone who can fly (laughs)
What is the difference when you play for Slovenia or Phoenix Suns?
It's different because it is slower. I can bring the ball up court and call a play fast, but then I have to wait for the others. During the preparation games I was walking up court and calling plays. It'S not my game, but you have to get used to everything.
Are you happy with your form?
Oh, no. Not in form yet. I have to be realistic. I'm not feeling great yet. Maybe I was holding back a little bit during the friendly games, because I was worried about injuries and I hadn't play in a while.
Now, when the world cup begins, I'll play at full power and not think about that.
What are you expecting from the spectacle in Spain?
I wish we advance and make it to the quarterfinals. I'm also looking forward to next year, I want to make a jump with a strong team at the European championship and get to the Olympic games for the first time in history.
Slovenia is playing in group D along with Australia, Mexico, Korea, Angola and Lithuania (in order they play SLO). The first challenge will be the game against Australia today, which Slovenia has to win in order to have some influence over who they meet in the second round in Barcelona. Goran Dragi? will be playing full force today so we can finally get excited about real Dragon basketball.