For Goran Dragic (Slovenia) and Marcin Gortat (Poland), commitment to country takes a front seat between NBA seasons. They are each the best their country has to offer, and now feel the weight of their country's hopes, dreams and expectations on their shoulders in Eurobasket 2013.

Eurobasket 2013 is finally here. Phoenix Suns players Goran Dragic (Slovenia) and Marcin Gortat (Poland) will both participate in Group C in the initial round of Pool Play, starting on September 4. Each of the six teams in Group C will play each other, with the top three finishers moving on to round two against top finishers from other groups. From there, four teams advance to the playoffs.

Our brothers over at Canishoopus.com (hereafter referred to as CH), the SB Nation Wolves blog, ran a really great, indepth preview of Group C. Also, the OKC Blog, Welcome to Loud City, previewed Group C here.

Poland

Here's CH's bottom line on Poland:

This team could be really dangerous with inside players who are hard to stop outside and a throughout strong shooting backcourt. Watch out for this team. I think they are almost a lock to make it into the second round and from then on, they are a team nobody would want to face. Of course, a lot will depend on the chemistry between Gortat and Lampe.

And here's WTLC's bottom line on Poland, who they rank 2nd in Group C:

Final Verdict: I might be crazy for ranking Poland this high, but I have a lot of confidence in them. The truth is, we haven't seen Poland in their full form yet, since they seemed to sit a key player in the vast majority of their warmup games. Moreover, Poland's starting five is as good as anybody's, and I can see their bigs making mincemeat of the weaker Slovenian and Croatian defenses. Positions two to four are really a toss-up, but my money's on Poland. I could see them breaking into the tournament if they don't get too fatigued.

And here's insights from Lukasz Lysikowski, owner of Suns Nation, a Polish Suns blog that follows BSotS:

There are quite high expectations in Poland as for our team, but they are not exaggerated because we have the best team in recent years. Especially, all of the supporters see Lampe-Gortat duo as the best big men combination beside turkish Ilyasova - Asik.

Of course, the main goal is not to finish Eurobasket on the first round, but there are opinions shared that Polish team wants to qualify for the World Championships in Spain. The biggest problem is that we need to beat Slovenia, Spain, Turkey or Greece to advance to quarterfinals and this can be really hard to do.

We will see how it works out, but I am quite optimist as far as Polish team is concerned.


Slovenia

Here's CH's bottom line on Slovenia:

Without Lorbek the pieces don't really fit together and Slovenia suffers from the fact that they have a few top caliber players at this tournament in Dragic and Nachbar, but have them surrounded with a supporting cast that can't be relied on in bringing out their strengths. With generous refereeing that is guaranteed and some Goran heroisms they are a threat to make it into the playoffs but a medal seems out of reach.

Here's WTLC's bottom line on Slovenia, who they rank 3rd in Group C:

Final Verdict: Slovenia boasts a strong team going into this Eurobasket, but they just look really flawed to me. They're already dealing with having no true distributor, and relying on two score-first guards. But when you combine that with their lack of defensive post presence, I have a hard time seeing them win against teams of similar caliber. I'm really not confident about ranking them over Croatia, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt because their talent is just that much higher, and Croatia is nearly as flawed.

And here are insights on Slovenia from Bright Side's own Pece.

Pece has been recapping Slovenian warmup games for the past month, and recently provided me with some local insight into the Slovenian team and Dragic in particular. As the hosts of the tournament, pressure and expectation to play well are higher than ever. And Goran Dragic is at the center of that attention.

On Slovenia in general: Excitement before championship in Slovenia is on the peak. Everything is now somehow connected to the basket. My kids are tomorrow starting new school-year so I have to wrap all theirs notebooks - you probably guessed that every one of them has one basket hero on the cover. Like in previous years preparations for championship, fans and analysts in Slovenia questioned who was "in" and who was "out".

On who's missing: Beno Udrih (NY Knicks) was the main star of this overture, and despite his repeated assurances of participation in the championship, at the end withdrew without any reason. The other notable absence is Erazem Lorbek (Barcelona), who was the best player in our last two tournaments, but he had long lasting injury through season, so this was expected. All teams will be incomplete this year, but Slovenia (only 2M people) doesn't have long line of hardened basketball veterans, who play in high level competition, so impact here is huge. Dragi? and Udrih could play together like long awaited Dragic-Bledsoe duo and Lorbek really doesn't have any peer in Slovenia. This became evident in preparation games. Our worst spot was power forward (Lorbek's spot), so we had to relocate our best shooter (Nachbar, ex-Houston, now Barcelona) from 3 to 4. Our secondary play maker, Jaka Lakovi?, due to his age and unexpected injury, raised a few doubts about potential of this team.

On expectations: But, nevertheless, a general public is still expecting a medal. All doubts by experts and evident shortcomings are rejected with believing in supernatural effect of home court

On Dragic in particular: Even before the tournament, after watching Dragi? playing more then ten friendly games, we can say that he became matured, reliable performer. He will always give double digit points and he showed big confidence, which enables him to play in clutch moments.

In previous years Dragi? had more problems with European style of game. Basketball is usually slower here (sometimes a lot), there is no time restriction for parking in the paint for defensive player, zone defense, pressing defense and general defense orientation are common or dominant. This year, the strategy is tuned for faster play and team exercised quick pass from rebound to PG and then quicker transition.

Also, Dragic has some good complementary shooters, mainly Nachbar, who is in his prime (he achieved his personal record this year by making 35 points against mighty CSKA Moscow). Focusing on or exposing speed as THE salvation became almost mantra these days, I presume the same in Phoenix as in Ljubljana, but we also saw some nice P&R game between Goran and our centers. It was not often, but sure refreshing.

In the end, one general impression: In Europe Dragi? plays less restricted. It seems like if he is making some personal, live experiments, not so on new techniques or skills, but mainly things regarding confidence and determination.

I cannot imagine better training for new season in NBA.

Summary

There you have it, folks. Eurobasket 2013 is a great tourney for those starved for basketball of any kind. And hopefully, Gortat and Dragic will taste some success as the anchors for their country.

We'll keep you up to speed throughout the next two weeks as the tourney progresses.

Go Slovenia!

Go Poland!

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Per Paul Coro, some of the Suns brass is in Slovenia this week to watch the festivities, including GM Ryan McDonough and Coach Jeff Hornacek. Good living, I'd say, with a great host in Goran Dragic.

Poland

Suns fans know how much bravado Marcin Gortat can dish, no matter the situation. The more pressure he feels, the more bravado he dishes.

He did not let up in Slovenia, just before Poland kicked off their Eurobasket run, despite only recently returning to competitive basketball while healing from his lisfranc injury.

"I want to leave this country [Slovenia] with a medal," the Phoenix Suns big man told fibaeurope.com.

Then he chuckled as he went off the deep end, saying "If we get it, I can tell you right now, I am going be missing training camp in the NBA. I am going to be partying for three weeks right after the tournament!"

"It's a dream, it's a freaking dream to leave here with a medal, it's going to be huge."

Unfortunately, Gortat's team lost by 17 in their opener against Georgia. In 28 minutes, Gortat scored 12 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished 4 assists. He was 6/13 from the field, 0/3 on free throws and a -17 for the game. The Polish team made only 3 of 16 three-pointers, while Georgia made 61% of their shots for the game.

Slovenia

The hosts kicked off their tournament run against a tough Czech team. Slovenia last played the Czech Republic in Eurobasket 2004, before Goran Dragic was a member of the team.

Neither team played well, nor shot well, but the Slovenian team came out on top 62-60. Goran Dragic had 8 points (on only 3/15 shooting), with 9 assists and 2 steals.

"We had a couple of opportunities to make [an early 45-36 lead] a bigger lead but we didn't take advantage of them and the Czech Republic kept fighting and coming back," Bostjan Nachbar said in summary after the thrilling finale.
"So we had to fight hard all the way to the last seconds to get the win. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't the best game we've ever played, but we got the win and that's the important thing."

Ukraine

The Ukrainian team boasts newest Sun Slava Kravtsov, who scored only 2 points but grabbed 5 rebounds and had four blocks in 22 minutes. Ukraine won by a point, 58-57, over Belgium.

Beghin put his team up 57-55 with 1:41 remaining but that was to be their last score. Vlacheslav Kravtsov delivered a perfect block on Sam van Rossom that halted one last drive to land a decisive blow.

Here's the highlights:

Day TWO preview

Kravtsov's Ukraine plays Israel

Gortat's Poland plays Czech Republic, who just lost to Slovenia

Dragic's Slovenia plays the heavily favored Spain, who boast a plethora of NBA stars

FIBA Eurobasket 2013 opened its group play on Wednesday, and all three Euro-Suns in Slovenia for the event took their fair share of lumps to start the event. In Group C play, Slovenian Goran Dragic...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
With the Phoenix Suns having shed themselves of Michael Beasley, questions remain. How could this have happened? More importantly is the road ahead and what the move means for both the Suns and the...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

The Phoenix Suns Podcast takes it to 11 as training camp is rapidly approaching and we are on the heels of the beginning to the 2013-2014 NBA season.

In part one of the podcast we invite royalty to the show in Greg Wissinger to take a look at his Sacramento Kings. For the past few seasons the Kings and the Suns have been at the bottom of the standings in the Western Conference. The Kings have a new look, some unique challenges, and boast a player that the Suns fans were hoping for on draft night; Ben McLemore.

Check out what Greg and I think about the Kings this upcoming year: Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 36 w/Greg Wissinger

Then in part two, my apologies to Greg, but the guest that all the Bright Siders are looking to hear from, Channing Frye joins the show. He gives BSOTS an exclusive update on his medical prognosis, status, and a peak into what his life has been like the past 12-15 months. On top of that there is some playful banter on the ASU-Arizona rivalry, the Michael Beasley situation, and much, much more...

Check out our conversation with Channing Frye: Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 36 with Channing Frye

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

Sidebar: What do you think the name of the podcast should be? Right now we are nameless and basically describe what we do as a title... Thoughts? Post in the comments

Page 970 of 2038

970

Web Links

Sponsored Ads