|12 July 2011|
U16 Men Preperations
|Aleksej Nikolic averaged 10 points per game for Slovenia in the U16 European Championship Division B 2010|
In Slovenia, basketball is king.
So it's not surprising the way the national teams at various age groups are impressing these days.
EuroBasket 2013 will come too early for those in Slovenia's under-16 team, but some of those players will eventually graduate to the senior side.
The team led by coach Milos Sporar is showing signs that it will be a force at this summer's U16 European Championship Division B in Strumica, FRY of Macedonia.
Sporar's men just travelled to Poland and split a pair of friendlies with a team that is competing in Division A.
After losing one friendly in overtime, 73-69, they bounced back to win the second, 63-57.
The standout performer on offense for Slovenia in their victory was Aleksej Nikolič, who had 18 points.
"In this game the boys have taken a step forward," Sporar said.
"At times, the game has been similar to that which we want to have.
"But we cannot be satisfied as we go into another two weeks of preparations and four friendly games.
"Once we are in Macedonia, we should be peaking, and meanwhile we have to go from workout to workout, from game to game."
Sporar accepts that his team is a work in progress, which is why after their defeat to Poland in the first friendly he sounded upbeat and not downhearted.
"The game was played at a very high level," he said, "and despite the extremely poor percentage of shooting from long range, we kept pace with a very good, physically stronger and a higher representation of Poland.
"Also, do not overlook the fact that for the last 15 minutes we played without some of the older players who were removed from the game due to five fouls or injuries."
At the U16 European Championship in Strumica, FYR of Macedonia, which tips off on July 28, Slovenia will be in Group B with the Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Finland and Cyprus.