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Zagorac's dream of playing with brother comes true on FIBA 3x3 pro circuit
LJUBLJANA (Slovenia) – Sasa Zagorac’s long-held dream of playing with his brother Zelimir will finally materialize as he laces up for Team Ljubljana at the Penang 3x3 Challenger in Malaysia on May 11-12, 2019.
Since sharing the same basketball team at the junior level, the veterans have only opposed each other on the court ever since. They will reunite with Zagorac joining his older brother Zelimir on Team Ljubljana, who will be looking to return to their winning ways after claiming 2 FIBA 3x3 World Tour titles in 2013 and 2016.
“It has always been a goal of us to play together and it is really exciting to play with my brother,” Zagorac said. “It gives me more time to be with him and we will have chemistry on the court.”
The 35-year-old is known for his physical and gritty style of play and it is those characteristics that should see him suited to the fast and furious 3x3 discipline. “3x3 has always caught my eye because of its intensity,” he says.
“In basketball there are a lot of free throws and stoppages. In 3x3 it is action throughout, so that is a big difference.
“3x3 is a tougher game and there is more contact allowed, which I like. It is going to be a lot of fun.”
Having never played in the Olympics before, Zagorac is eyeing the Tokyo Games next year. “I would love to be an Olympian and of course that's a goal,” he says. “I’ve played in major championships for Slovenia but never in the Olympics.
“It would mean a lot for Slovenia to be at the Olympics in 3x3. It’s a small country but we love basketball and 3x3 is getting really popular now. I see kids playing 3x3 in the streets everywhere.”
Zagorac’s crowning moment of his long basketball career was being part of Slovenia’s memorable triumph at FIBA EuroBasket 2017. He played his best game of the tournament during Slovenia’s stunning 92-72 upset over defending champions Spain in the semi-finals.
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“It was the biggest experience of my life and it was incredible to make the country so proud. It meant so much to everyone in Slovenia,” he said.
Zagorac provided important leadership on a team headlined by stars Goran Dragic and Luka Doncic, who has since taken the NBA by storm and is the hot favorite to be crowned rookie-of-the-year.
“I really believed in this kid from day one,” Zagorac says of Doncic. “He is a shy guy but when he steps on the court he just has the mentality of a winner. I think he will keep getting better and better.”
Is there any chance Zagorac can entice the Dallas Mavericks franchise player to one day play 3x3?
“Two years ago, I made the (Slovenian) team watch a lot of 3x3 because of my brother,” he laughed. “I know it got Luka’s attention and he enjoyed it.”
Team Ljubljana made the quarter-finals at the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Doha Masters but the addition of another Zagorac could provide a lift.
“I know the competition will be tough but I think we can do well on the World Tour,” he says. “We have a good team and hopefully we can do something special.”