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Klobucar cameo marks long-awaited return

GRAN CANARIA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Australia were so busy weathering a Goran Dragic storm in their FIBA Basketball World Cup opener, you could almost hear their sigh of relief when reserve guard Jaka Klobucar checked in.

But by the end of Slovenia's impressive 90-80 victory you can bet the Boomers were happy to see the back of the unassuming 27-year-old.

For his part, Klobucar was just delighted to have played an important role for his country after four years in the major tournament wilderness, and keen for the next success.

"For sure, I am happy every time I represent my national team," he said.

"We did great today but we must forget this game and go on."

Klobucar watched on as the Slovenians outworked Australia early and rode Goran Dragic's brilliant playmaking to a double-figure lead.

The Boomers charged late in the second quarter and closed to within a solitary point midway through the third, and with Dragic on the bench in foul trouble the Oceania champs had all the momentum.

That's where Klobucar stepped in.

He pinched a Joe Ingles pass, fed Domen Lorbek for a lay-up and scored five quick points himself to turn the game back Slovenia's way despite some intense pressure from the Aussies.

The Novo Mesto native puts that down to the years of experience he has gained since his last time in the light green at the 2010 FIBA World Championship.

"I'm older, I think I am a better player so everything seems easier," he laughed.

"This year I have a bigger role than before but that doesn't matter, all that matters is all 12 players are together, and we are."

And that belief in his countrymen makes the 1.98m combo guard immediately dismiss talk that the absence of Mirza Begic, Gasper Vidmar and Erazem Lorbek has derailed Slovenia’s medal hopes.

"The team is what it is, I think we still have a good team," he said.

"We have energy, we have heart, we can play very fast and I think this is most important for our team. I think we can have some good success."