31 August, 2017
17 September
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All Slovenia do this summer is win

MARIBOR (FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers) - Very few teams preparing for the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Qualifiers, which get under way on Wednesday, managed to keep up throughout August with the pace of an undefeated Slovenia.

The 'Junaki' have delivered an impressive string of consistently solid performances right from the start of their warm-up games, although it was assumed that they would require some time to get accustomed to a different style of play under new head coach Igor Kokoskov.

Instead, Slovenia hit the ground running in preparations under the Serbian-born tactician and on Wednesday night they registered their seventh win in as many friendly games this summer. Slovenia's average margin of victory in these warm-ups has been 17.2 points, prevailing over Portugal, Austria, Belgium, Poland, Iceland, Great Britain and now The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

"We will try to maintain our perfect record in friendlies in order to go into the six games that await us in the Qualifiers with as much confidence as possible." - Edo Muric

Slovenia first defeated The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MKD) 84-68 in a scrimmage behind closed doors on Tuesday and then on Wednesday, playing in front of a capacity crowd in Maribor's Tabor arena, they got off to a slow start, but a strong finish propelled them to an 82-67 win.

The winners were led by Klemen Prepelic's 18 points and 6 rebounds, got 17 points from Edo Muric while Goran Dragic had a near double-double of 12 points and 9 assists. For MKD, who are also in the final week of their preparations for the Qualifiers, Romeo Von Travis finished with 16 points while Vojdan Stojanovski added 14 points.

"I'm glad that we won and we remain unbeaten," commented Muric. "It was certainly not easy, they are a very good team as they've shown in both games. In the final quarter (on Wednesday) we played the way we want to play, and our aim is to play like that throughout the entire game. If we succeed, it will be easier for us and less stressful for our fans.

"We still have left a few training sessions and one last friendly, on Saturday against Montenegro, which will certainly be the toughest warm-up so far. We will try to win and maintain our perfect record in friendlies in order to go into the six games that await us in the Qualifiers with as much confidence as possible."

On Wednesday 31 August, Slovenia play host to Kosovo in the Qualifiers Group E opener and will also face Ukraine and Bulgaria in home and away games. MKD meanwhile were drawn in Group G together with Great Britain, Hungary and Luxembourg, whom they receive at home on opening night.

"These friendlies were a good experience for us because we continue to expect [in the Qualifiers] exactly this sort of games, where every single thing that happens on the court, every ball, every possession, every player is important," commented Kokoskov.

"We need to understand that we have to play with energy and play as a team. So far we have not had many opportunities to play against a zone defence but this time they played zone for about 30 minutes and all this was a valuable experience for our team."