Qualified Team Focus - Slovenia: Doncic and co. extra motivated
MIES (Switzerland) - The Draw for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 will be held in Manila, Philippines, on April 29. It is now time to meet the 32 teams that try to become World Champions in a few months.
After Spain and Australia and France, next up is the number seven team in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, 2020 Olympics Semi-Finalists and FIBA EuroBasket 2017 champions Slovenia.
🇸🇮 Slovenia will be bringing the magic to the World Cup 🪄#FIBAWC x #WinForSlovenia pic.twitter.com/HA7N7tjZXZ— FIBA Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) November 14, 2022
How did they qualify
Slovenia came into the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers with extra motivation after failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2019 as reigning European champions. An eventful qualifying campaign saw head coach Aleksander Sekulic lead his team to the 2023 World Cup with one window to spare. Captain Edo Muric on hand for all 10 of the games while Jaka Blazic and Ziga Dimec both played in eight qualifiers and five other players appeared in at least six games.
After sensationally reaching the 2020 Olympic Semi-Finals, Slovenia's World Cup qualification campaign started with a Balkan derby that went down to the wire and they escaped with a 76-74 win over Croatia in Zagreb. Klemen Prepelic led Slovenia in scoring three times in his five games, including dropping 30 points plus 8 assists on Sweden in a tight 94-89 home win.
Slovenia lost both of their games to Finland in the second window but then got reinforcements for the third and fourth windows. Luka Doncic came on board after the NBA season and Goran Dragic came out of retirement. Doncic starred in leading Slovenia to three wins - averaging 25.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.0 assists.
The FIBA EuroBasket 2022 followed the fourth window and Slovenia won their group of death but were then ousted surprisingly by Poland in the Quarter-Finals. The team was not so confident for the fifth window, missing the two NBA stars as well as other past leaders.
But Ziga Samar did his best Luka Doncic impression in guiding Slovenia to wins in Israel and at home over Germany - with the 21-year-old collecting 14 points, 12 assists and 5 rebounds in the latter game which locked up the World Cup spot. What an experience for the young man!
Best result at the World Cup
This will be Slovenia's fourth appearance at the World Cup after playing in three straight global showcases from 2006 to 2014. The Balkan side lost in the Round of 16 in 2006 but reached the Quarter-Finals in 2010 and 2014 for their best results in World Cup history.
Goran Dragic vs United States at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014
Last World Cup appearances
Slovenia first appeared on the world stage in 2006 in Japan where they went 2-3 in the group phase with wins over Senegal and Puerto Rico before falling to Turkey in the Round of 16. Four years later in Turkey, Slovenia went 4-1 in the group stage with only a loss to United States. They beat Australia to reach the Quarter-Finals for the first time but were ousted by Turkey once again.
In 2014 in Spain, Slovenia lost only to Lithuania for a 4-1 group record and knocked off Dominican Republic to return to the Quarter-Finals. The final eight once again was the end of Slovenia's run as they fell to United States 119-76.
Slovenia entered qualification for the 2019 World Cup as FIBA EuroBasket 2017 champions but finished last in the Second Round Group I with a 3-9 to miss out on playing in China.
Players to watch
Slovenia managed to reach the World Cup thanks to a large and solid group of talents. But Coach Sekulic has a very strong team when his leaders are all on board. Luka Doncic has already said he wants to play in the World Cup and Goran Dragic has left the door in a recent interview. With those two on the floor, anything can happen.
With Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic on board Slovenia have good chances this summer
There is also a strong core including Vlatko Cancar, Mike Tobey or Jordan Morgan, Klemen Prepelic, Edo Muric, Jaka Blazic, Zoran Dragic, Aleksej Nikolic, Ziga Samar and Ziga Dimec. Youngsters Gregor Glas and Urban Klavzar could also force their way into the roster with strong performances in training camp.