'A Medal Would Be Amazing' For Lorbek

29 January 2013

EUROBASKET 2013

Erazem Lorbek - Barcelona 2011/12
Erazem Lorbek is in his fourth season with FC Regal Barcelona

By Dimitris Kontos

Slovenia's Erazem Lorbek, who turns 29 next month, is widely considered one of the best European power forwards and accordingly, he has had a fulfilling career.

He first broke onto the big stage at the European Championship for Junior Men in 2002, leading the competition in scoring (23.8 PPG) and rebounds (10.8 RPG) to guide Slovenia's U18 side to the silver medal.

He went on to play for some of the most storied clubs in Europe, winning league and cup titles in Italy with Fortitudo Bologna and Benetton Treviso, in Russia with CSKA Moscow and in Spain with FC Barcelona Regal.

Lorbek also won the Turkish Airlines Euroleague title with Barcelona in 2010 and has been named on the First Team of the same competition.

It is no secret either that the Slovenian forward had the option last summer, once again, to make the jump to the other side of the Atlantic but he chose to ignore the NBA sirens and stay with the Catalan giants, where he's been an integral part of the team since 2009.

If there is one accolade Lorbek has still not achieved in his career, one empty spot in his trophy case, that's a EuroBasket medal with Slovenia.

"A medal would be amazing, for sure amazing," he told FIBAEurope.com.

"We've been trying to win this medal for many years now but [at the same time] we all know it's a long tournament and you have to be a really great team to get this medal."

Slovenia came oh so close to the EuroBasket semi-finals many a time since Lorbek and the other players of his generation gradually formed the core of the senior national team.

Next September they could have their best chance ever, since the country is hosting the showcase event of European basketball.

Lorbek however is a seasoned veteran and he doesn't make predictions, he doesn't even set the elusive podium finish as his and Slovenia's aim in September.

What is instead obvious with every word he says, what comes across as the most valuable nugget of experience from his multi-winning career, is that every tournament, even one as relatively short as the EuroBasket, is a marathon rather than a sprint.

"I think it will be a long EuroBasket, with many good teams there," he said.

"It is important for Slovenia to get ready and that all the players arrive healthy.

"I think we will have a good team if most of us come, but still we will have to play well of course, because it's very tough [competition].

"So the more good players you have, you can have a good bench and make better substitutions for more games in a row."

15. Erazem Lorbek (Slovenia)
Lorbek first suited up for Slovenia at the European Championship for Junior Men in 2000

Whether Slovenia's bench will be deep enough to enable them to reach far in the competition remains to be seen, but one thing the hosts will definitely not be short on is experience.

Lorbek alone already has four EuroBaskets under his belt and has played -and impressed- in all big arenas in Europe.

Even for a player of his experience though, playing in front of a friendly crowd still provides an extra boost.

"Playing at home will be a big difference, a huge difference," he asserted.

"It will help us a lot to play in front of our fans, it will help with the quality of the team [performance]."

The big man might have left Slovenia years ago to pursue this enriching career, but even from Barcelona he is fully aware of the expectations back home.

"Our fans expect from us to play well and to get a good result," he stated.

"They know us, they know how we can play and they expects us to be one of the protagonists of this EuroBasket.

"This [tournament] means a lot for the country and for Slovenian basketball.

"People in our country like basketball, they wanted this and it will lift the morale [of Slovenians] for sure."


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