Slovenia On High After Italy Win

31.08.2005

It would be foolish to read too much into friendly results ahead of the EuroBasket, but rest assured that Slovenia will be celebrating their triumph over Italy on the opening day of the Efes Cup in Turkey.

The Slovenians were licking their chops after three straight defeats in the ProMonte Cup in Podgorica, where Lithuania, Serbia & Montenegro and Croatia beat them like a drum last week.

But on Tuesday they claimed an 85-68 morale-boosting win in Istanbul over the Azzurri, putting forth a better defensive effort following stinging criticism from their coach in the aftermath of the recent setbacks.

Primoz Brezec (Slovenia)
Primoz Brezec had 16 points in Slovenia's win
The Slovenians jumped out to a 19-14 lead at the end of the first quarter and stretched that to 41-33 at the half-time interval.

Slovenia, who should have a lot of support in Serbia & Montenegro at the EuroBasket as it is a neighbouring country, pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Italians 24-14 before cruising home.

Slovenia's guards, probably the strength of their team, came to the fore with Beno Udrih pouring in a game-high 19 points.

Udrih came under fire in the NBA play-offs when he struggled coming off the bench for the champions San Antonio Spurs.

Panathinaikos guard Jaka Lakovic, one of Greek basketball's leading guards last season, had 15 while Sani Becirovic, Climamio Bologna's recent signing, weighed in with 11.

Primoz Brezec, the Charlotte Bobcats center, had 16 points while San Antonio center Rasho Nesterovic was less influential with two.

Both point guard Massimo Bulleri and center Roberto Chiacig, members of Italy's silver medal-winning side at the Olympics, had 14 points in the defeat.

In the other game played on Tuesday, hosts Turkey defeated France 93-85.

Turkey, good bets to reach the medal round at the EuroBasket, got 17 points from Hedo Turkoglu and 12 from Mehmet Okur.

France, coming off back-to-back losses at Spain, got a solid effort from Boris Diaw, one of their emerging stars who was recently traded from the Atlanta Hawks to the Phoenix Suns.

Diaw exploded for 25 points while Tony Parker, San Antonio's starting point guard, had 24.


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