Turning Point: Despite the too-close-for comfort finale, the game turned on its head during the last seven minutes of the second quarter. Georgia went almost five minutes without a score and Slovenia outscored their guests 29-6 in that stretch to turn a 26-15 deficit into a 44-32 lead at the half-time buzzer.
Game Hero: Domen Lorbek was the instigator of the Slovenian second-quarter burst with 10 points on three-for-three shooting from behind the arc, and came back in the clutch to secure the win with some late heroics. He finished with a team-high 18 points on five-for-nine shooting from the floor.
Stats Don't Lie: Slovenia hit six three-pointers in a row during that crucial seven-minute stretch in the second quarter, seeng their overall field goal percentage sky-rocketing from 38% to 50%. The hosts got 20 points from their second unit in that period alone; Georgia's bench players only contributed 21 points in the entire game.
|Giorgi Shermadini and Georgia were left ruing a second-quarter cold spell which gave Slovenia the slight upper hand for the remainder of the encounter|
In one of the most engaging games ever to only feature a single lead change, EuroBasket hosts Slovenia denied a gutsy Georgia 72-68 on Saturday and maintained their perfect record in Group C.
Almost oblivious of the raucous capacity crowd in Celje Arena, the defiant Georgians set out to inconvenience their hosts, leading by as many as nine points in the opening quarter, and reached the first buzzer up 19-13.
Georgia continued to push hard and took their biggest lead when Ricky Hickman provoked a turnover by Bostjan Nachbar and threw the ball to George Tsintsadze in the open court, who made it 26-15 with a lay-up, 7:40 before the half-time buzzer.
"We started bad because of their zone defence, they used it from early on and we didn't react well to it," Slovenia point guard Jaka Lakovic commented following the game.
"We found our game against the zone, and we also made the shots, which is the most important thing."
Slovenia tightened the screws on defence and prevented Viktor Sanikidze from putting the ball on the floor and taking on their big men off the dribble.
Lorbek drilled his first triple in the game to bring the hosts up 28-26 with 5:02 remaining in the period, and hit his third to give them a 36-30 cushion, 1:42 from the half-time buzzer.
The Slovenes finished at a rather discreet 9-of-27 from three-point range but hit all six of their triples during those seven magical minutes, which gave them their 12-point lead.
Georgia refused to go away though, despite the fact they did not make significant process in the third.
"In the second half I think we relaxed on defence," Lakovic said.
"As a team, when we don't do well on defence we struggle on offence, and we saw this again today.
"They closed down the lanes to the basket, we could not play at the high post or down low, it was difficult and because of this we shot more from outside."
With 3:27 left to play in the game, Manuchar Markoishvili split the Slovenian defence and finished with a lay-up to bring Georgia within one point, 60-59, for the first time since the second quarter.
But then impact-Lorbek hit another triple with 1:47 on the clock to give Slovenia some breathing space, 65-61.
Georgia called a time-out and upon returning to the court, Lorbek intercepted a bad pass and dunked in the open court to make it 67-61.
"He had a great game and made the important triple at the end," Lakovic said about his teammate.
"Today it was him that made the difference, this is our team, a player steps up in every game and all together we pull ahead."