Turning Point: The Czechs were trailing 62-60 with seven seconds to play but they had the ball. Coach Pavel Budinsky called a time-out and drew up a play for Lubos Barton, but the veteran forward got tangled up among three Slovenians and was called for travelling.
Game Hero: No one will be more relieved for Slovenia's win than Bostjan Nachbar, who used all his experience to grab two crucial defensive rebounds in the final 17 seconds, but was duly fouled and only converted one of his four free-throws.
Stats Don't Lie: Both sides shot the ball poorly, Slovenia even more so than the Czech Republic (34% to 39% from the floor), and the two teams balanced each other out across statistical categories - the balance could have shifted in either direction and it came down to the penultimate play.
|Relief was obvious for game hero Bostjan Nachbar and Zoran Dragic|
EuroBasket 2013 hosts Slovenia led for almost the entire game but only prevailed 62-60 over the Czech Republic after a tense finale in the opening game of the two teams in Group C action in Celje.
Slovenia grabbed the initiative right from tip-off in their first game at the EuroBasket on Wednesday, but were unable to shake off their persistent guests, arriving at the half-time interval with a slim 36-32 lead.
They seemed to make some headway with 7:11 remaining in the third quarter.
Goran Dragic scored his first points with a jumper in front of the long hands of Tomas Satoransky and on the next possession Jure Balazic sunk a triple from the corner to give the hosts their biggest lead on the night until that point, 45-36.
But it was a mirage.
"We had a couple of opportunities to make it a bigger lead but we didn't take advantage of them and the Czech Republic kept fighting and coming back," Nachbar said in summary after the thrilling finale.
"So we had to fight hard all the way to the last seconds to get the win.
"It wasn't pretty, it wasn't the best game we've ever played, but we got the win and that's the important thing."
Slovenia head coach Bozidar Maljkovic was also relieved that his men had got off to a winning start against a team he branded as the "the best run-and-gun team in Europe, together with Spain and France maybe."
The mobile Czechs played with Jan Vesely at the "5" spot for long stretches and Tomas Satoranksy pushed the tempo up for as long as his lungs would take it.
Their display piled additional stress on Slovenia who did not always look for the open man patiently, despite Goran Dragic's game-high nine assists.
"I think both teams could win today, both deserved to win, but we didn't take our opportunities," Budinsky said.
"This was a tight game with late-time situations and unfortunately we didn't make the best decisions always."
"But I give credit to my team for the performance, because we expected a lot of pressure today, a huge crowd, and they responded."