Slovenia Aim For Perfect Preliminary Round

09.09.2009

By Simon Wilkinson

After coming very close to losing to Great Britain, in what might have been one of the biggest upset in European basketball history, a shaky-looking Spain will bid to hand Slovenia their first defeat in EuroBasket Group C on Wednesday.

Pau Gasol was the world champions' saviour on Tuesday, hitting the go-ahead three-pointer with about three minutes left in the game to give his team a 74-73 lead, one they didn't relinquish on their way to an 84-76 win.

Spain led by as many as 16 but Great Britain ran off 14 unanswered points to take their first lead at 68-66 midway through the final frame but they eventually ran out of steam.

Slovenia come into this game on the back of an impressive win over Serbia which guaranteed their place in the Qualifying Round. Jure Zdovc's men had a double-digit lead only three minutes into the game and never trailed on their way to an 80-69 win.

Head-to-head: Spain have won two of the three meetings between the two sides. The last time they met, at EuroBasket 2001 in Turkey, Slovenia were crushed 85-61 in the opening game of the tournament.

Key match-up: The battle of the big guys - Pau Gasol v Erazem Lorbek. They are the centre of their teams' offense. It will be interesting to see if Lorbek can slow down the Los Angeles Lakers All Star.

X-factor: Slovenia had their shooting touch going for them in the defeat of Serbia. They made 19 of 29 field goal attempts from two-point range and nine of 21 from beyond the arc. If they can keep up that kind of accuracy, Spain have their work cut out.

Stats: 32 - That is the number of points starter Jaka Lakovic and back-up Goran Dragic combined for against Serbia. Slovenia's guards have certainly been instrumental in their team's success so far and will be called upon again. Domen Lorbek and Samo Udrih led the fourth quarter charge to beat Great Britain on Monday and it was the turn of Lakovic and Dragic on Tuesday. The former hit two three-pointers to set the tone in the early stages and the latter scored 10 first-half points - including eight early in the second quarter - to keep Serbia at bay. 

Sounding-off: "It will be a tough game. Slovenia have been the best team in the group so far. It is important for us to do a better job mentally than what we have shown in the first two games. If we do that, then I hope that the rest will take care of itself." - Spain head coach Sergio Scariolo.


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