It is not easy to come back home from a vacation. It is even harder, when you go from, enjoying a warm sunny weather, enjoying the sea, the scenery, multiple cold beers and basically just relaxing, to a cold, rainy city where people are not wearing bikinis all the time.
What makes it little easier tough, is the fact that i can actually watch a basketball game that does not involve Croatia. It would have been a perfect trip, if i could only watch Slovenia beat Tunisia and then get trashed by USA.
And in a way, today's game is a perfect circle of life. I come home from vacationing in Croatia, not being able to watch games involving Slovenia, to watching Slovenia beat Croatia 91:84 on my sofa, enjoying cold beer.
Weird, unusual starting 5 introduction. Forgive me, if this was mentioned before, but since this is the first time I am actually watching a game from Turkey, this is the first time I am seeing this: During the introductions of a starting lineups, they first introduce starting guards for each team and that kind of introduction continues thru small forward position, power forward and then end with a center position. If I was in the audience, I wouldn't know when to cheer. Then again, I am simple minded folks.
Latest update is that about 5 thousand Slovenian fans came to Turkey to support the team. Arena looks nice. I guess green is sexy. What?!
Anyway, Uros Slokar will be playing with a knee injury, while Sani Becirovic re-injured his shoulder against USA and took an injection before the game to relieve the pain. I can tell, since his hair is done perfectly.
Hopefully, Goran Dragic will have a better game. He had a serious performance anxiety against USA, if you know what I mean. If you don't know what i mean, 2 things: 1) Watch Whois line is it anyway 2) Lucky bastard
And remember guys, it's 'this and that', not 'this or that', so feel free to pick both options.
SLOVENIA: Zupan, Brezec, Udrih, Nachbar, Dragic
CROATIA: Tomic, Zoric, Tomas, Kus, Ukic
Jump-ball goes to Croatia who then commits an offensive foul with a moving screen
Dragic with a bad pass to Brezec under the basket, almost intercepted, but Brezec comes away with it, misses a layup, but then tips it in finally. Slovenia leads 2:0
Zoric with a tough offensive rebound and tip in
Minute and a half gone and we all saw this coming. Let's say it all together: Goran with a first personal after a turnover
Croatia scores, Slovenia another turnover, Ukic with a 3 and Croatia leads 6:2
Anything you can do, I can do better, Goran returns the three pointer. It's 6:5
Poor boxing out by Slovenia, Croatia looks aggressive
Dragic with a missed jump shot from a free throw line
Some sloppy basketball played by both teams. Dragic drives, passes to an open Slokar who misses a three pointer.
Nice drive inside by Tomas that ends with a foul. Croatia playing well, Slovenia playing not so well.
Fast break Slovenia, Dragic running the floor, sweet spin move and he is fouled. That spin move drew ohhhhsss from the home crowd. Well not exactly home crowd, but you know what I mean.
Croatia with a 3, they lead 13:9
Dragic with a missed shot in the post, Slokar tips the ball to Dragic who is lying on the floor and he passes to Nachbar, who drives inside, passes a back door pass to Slokar who slams it home. 13:11
Dragic misses a three pointer, Brezec gets the rebound, but since he holds a ball like a little girl, somebody pokes it away
Dragic passes to an open Slokar who drains a 3. Croatia leads 16:14
Sweet drive inside by Tomas, it's 18:14
Dragic with a great drive inside, bounces a pass to Slokar who lays it in. 18:16
Tomas misses at the buzzer
Dragic rests, Lakovic playing
Tomas hits a 3
Vidmar banging inside the paint, making things difficult for Croatian defense, of course he then commits an offensive foul. Refs quickly make a similar call on the other side
Becirovic drives inside, passes outside to an open Slokar who drains a 3. Croatia leads 21:19
Time out Slovenia. Bad defense by Slovenia, Croatia hitting everything as their fans are enjoying themselves. Croatia leads 26:19
Dragic back with 7 minutes remaining
Lakovic misses a 3, Vidmar gets an offensive rebound, slams it home and is also fouled.
Dragic almost loses a ball, then he commits a travel and well...loses a ball for Slovenia
Croatia playing with Slovenia, they lead 32:24
Becirovic with a drive inside just to see how it feels to fly high, if you know what I mean. He scores, so I guess he likes it
Great play by Slovenia, Dragic who is running around screens, takes a cut to the basket, receives a nice pass from Becirovic and scores on a layup. Croatia leads 33:30
Dragic tries to drive inside, trips and loses a ball. He is too excited. He needs to relax
After a time out, weird offensive set by Slovenia. Dragic drives inside, passes to Brezec, who quickly gives him the ball back. He is trapped in the corner by 2 defenders and with a shot clock buzzer ready to buzz, he shots a tough 3 pointer that of course misses. Lakovic comes up with an offensive rebound. Becirovic drives inside, sweet pass to Brezec who misses a consecutive layups (WTF!!!!!), Becirovic gets a rebound passes to Lakovic who hits a 3
Bad defense by Slovenia last couple of plays, no defending, no boxing out
Tomas hits a downtown 3 at the buzzer, Croatia leads 44:39. Halftime
Dragic starts the 3rd Q
After 2 minutes of play, Slovenia looks aggressive and better. They tied the score at 44
Dragic with a 2nd personal on Tomas.
Ukic with a 3. Awesome.
Dragic passes to Lakovic who misses a 3 pointer, but Vidmar rebound and lays it in
Vidmar again with a basket. Slovenia leads 48:44
Tomic with a 3 pointer. It's 48:47
Ukic with a 3 pointer from a backboard. I am about to punch somebody
Some questionable calls against Slovenia as they go to a timeout. Dragic wants to talk to a ref, Lakovic does not let him. Croatia leads 52:50
Croatia playing zone, Dragic hits a jumper
Dragic with a downtown 3 pointer and he gives a kiss to the crowd, Slovenia leads 55:52
Good defense by Dragic, Croatia turnover
Dragic to Nachbar for a 3 pointer, 58:52
Popovic returns the favour, 58:55
Slokar with a 3 pointer. If he plays like that injured, he should not get well. And I mean that in a most positive way possible.
With little less than 2 minutes to go, Dragic goes to the bench for a rest, animates the crowd to cheer even louder
Zupan with a 3. Slovenia leads 64:55
Slokar with 4 fouls, goes to the bench
Ukic with a great drive inside at the buzzer, end of 3rd and Slovenia leads 65:59
Dragic starts. Nachbar with a basket while he is fouled
Dragic get called for a 3rd personal while rebounding a defensive rebound. Weak call
Just as I am about to say better defense by Slovenia as they are rotating and guarding the outside shooters, Popovic scores another 3. Slovenia leads 67:62
Dragic with a turnover, aggressive defense by Croatia
Ukic with a 3 and it is 67:65. Time out Slovenia. Is this a joke. Guard a 3 point line!!
Popovic with a downtown 3 again. Ah. I mean. Ah.
Dragic drives inside in the crowd, loses a ball, Brezec picks it up and lays it in. Slovenia leads 69:68
I am flabbergasted. Tomas with a 3 from a backboard
Zupan with a 3. Slovenia leads 72:71 with 6 minutes remaining. They do know that one can shoot inside the three point line right?
Dragic with a steal, spins, passes to Lakovic who passes to Udrih for a nice fast break finish. Slovenia leads 74:71
Lakovic with a step back 3! 77:71
Dragic with a sick Ginobili drive-is it ok to use his name here :)-Slovenia leads 80:71. I think there was travel there, but like Ginobili he wasn't called for it
Popovic with a jumper. Why is he not playing in a starting 5 for Croatia?! He looks like he hits everything
Dragic rebounding well in defense
Dragic goes 'overboard', commits a turnover while driving, but Croatia loses a back just as quickly. Dragic cursing himself out for that play. There, there Goran
Udrih misses a 3 pointer with 50 seconds to go, Zupan commits an offensive foul which is beyond ridiculous since Slovenia is in penalty and Croatia gets a chance to get closer without wasting any time. Popovic hits both. Slovenia leads 84:79
Quick foul on Lakovic, He hits both. 86:79
Ukic misses a layup after a timeout, Lakovic is fouled, he misses both. Of course
Tomas is fouled on a 3 point shot (weak call!), hits only one. 86:80
Dragic is fouled, he hits both. 88:80
Zupan slam at the buzzer, Slovenia wins 91:84
Quotes after the game:
Primoz Brezec: We played poor defense in the 1st half, regrouped in the 2nd and played better. This game was important. We all know games against Croatia and Brazil will be the ones that will decide who takes the number two spot in the group. I believe we can play better.
Gasper Vidmar: We feel great getting a win in front of a great 'home' crowd. But we must focus and prepare for a game against Brazil. Croatia has some great guards, but we manages to get their big guys in foul trouble and win this game.
Bostjan Nachbar: This was our best game so far, yet at the same time, it was only a 3rd game. It was important to get a win against a team, that we will be competing against for a 2nd or 3rd spot in the group. We won, but we have a lot of hard work left, if we want to ensure a 2nd place.
Coach Becirovic: First, i would like to thank a great crowd who is continuing to support us in great numbers and energy. We are pleased we won a game against our neighbours. I am not happy with the 1st half. We played soft, poor defense. During halftime, 'i had a little talk' with the players, and they responded with better, agressive defense that gave us the win.
Croatia coach Josip Vrankovic: We wanted to play hard and a tough game. My team played very well, especially the first half. In the third quarter we had problems with fouls with our big guys and that is why we lost. We didn't get rebounds and we made some mistakes. We tried to play faster in the fourth quarter but we missed some shots and that was the difference.
So the win against Croatia still has 'us' on a pace to be in a position to get the number two place in the group. It is even better to see, the team can respond positively after a bad first half. I have no idea how Brasil is playing, but i am sure, Slovenia needs to play a lot better if they want to win the game.
Goran Dragic played 35 minutes, had 14 points (3pt M/A: 2/3, 2pt M/A: 3/7, FT M/A: 2/2), 4 assists, 4 rebounds, one steal and 5 turnovers. If it weren't for turnovers and the way they came, i would say he played well, but with 5 turnovers and with my expectations higher, i would have to say, i want more from him. It just seems like he wants to help his team so badly, he often puts himself in a such a hard position, that often results with a turnover. He is over agressive, but then, when in foul trouble, he needs to cut the agression back and with that he sometimes doesn't know how to respond defensivly. He feels at home when on fast break, but when playing within an offensive scheme (not sure if that's entirely his fault), he needs to pick his spots better and not force it so much. To me, It almost looks like he thinks that he only has a certain amount of time in which he has to do something and that forces him to do some silly mistakes. I'm not sure why.
Jaka Lakovic did not start the game, but had a solid game. He scored 15 points in 28 minutes (altough his 3pt shot was only 2/6) and had 4 assists with 2 turnovers. The reason i am mentioning him here is because it may well be that Jaka and Goran are not meant to play together and that's why each of them is not performing as well as they could. Which is understandable. They are both point guards, altough different breeds and they are both "out of position" when playing together.
Anyway, maybe i'll write more on this next time, but USA-Brazil game starts shortly and i need to fix me something to eat. Cold beer is optional. Let's enjoy it guys!
Slovenia' next game is on Wednesday against Brazil.
More photos » Chris Carlson - AP
3 months ago: Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic, left, of Slovenia, scores as Los Angeles Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic, also of Slovenia, defends during the second half of Game 6 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals Saturday, May 29, 2010, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Chauncey Billups induced a couple of backcourt fouls on Dragic through a combination of his veteran wiles and Dragic's over-aggressiveness. From then on, Goran was hardly a factor. He finished with 7 points on 2-for-8 shooting, 4 assists and 2 rebounds.
Frankly, Slovenia looked mentally overmatched from the start. It doesn't help when your 2-time Euroleague MVP and backcourt mate barely shows up for the game. Who is this guy, really?
Anyway, on a positive note, Dragic made some nice passes but his teammates refused to make any shots, even the ones that were open (which was rare). In my opinion, he was not outplayed by the opposing guards (Rose, Westbrook, Billups). Kevin Durant and Kevin Love were the big difference-makers.
What's your take on the game?
[Note by Seth Pollack, 08/29/10 2:45 PM MST ]
Turkoglu meanwhile, is shooting a lousy 27% (6/22) over 60 minutes in 2 games. He leads his team with 10 assists. Hopefully, he's just warming up in these early games.