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Slovenia's brothers have each other's backs
GRAN CANARIA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - The sight of Slovenia's slick ball movement cutting opponents apart has become a familiar one in Gran Canaria Arena this past week.
According to guard Zoran Dragic, it is like a team where he has more than just one brother playing alongside him.
"Even though we are a really young team, everyone wants success and everyone helps each other out because if we are not like a family we cannot play basketball at the level we want to," he said.
We just can't wait to play together again and win. - Z. Dragic
For coach Jure Zdovc, it is the culmination of a vision for his undersized but lightning-quick team.
"We worked hard in the preparation, we really fight with the players to play like a team, to find the open man, to make the extra pass, to share the ball," he said.
But when a desperate Angolan team upped the ante defensively in their do-or-die clash on Wednesday, Slovenia lost their mojo.
With his stars rattled, coughing up 14 turnovers in the first three quarters and being whistled for numerous technical fouls, Zdovc chose to rest his flustered starters and let his reserves turn the ship around.
The result was a 93-87 victory with Domen Lorbek the only player from the starting five returning to the court, highlighting that this band of brothers have each other’s back in times of need.
"They were more aggressive," Zdovc said of his second unit.
"I tell them press fullcourt and this was the key. They might not have so much talent like the starters, but they put the defense one level higher, and this is what they must do.
"The bench must be more aggressive to upgrade your game, not go down, and this made me very satisfied."
Next up is Lithuania in a much-anticipated clash to conclude Group D, and Zdovc was asked if he would again deploy his full-court press given the Green Machine’s struggles against the Boomers.
"Australia have this quality, they are aggressive and this is one option to beat Lithuania," he said.
"But we are Slovenia, we have our own tactics."
As for Zoran Dragic, he isn't too worried about the size of Lithuania or any team, confident his team's cohesion can overcome any barrier.
"We are comfortable. Of course we don’t have big guys, but we are helping each other," he said.