No Udrih, No Problem For Slovenia

15 September 2005

Some teams are better equipped than others to deal with injuries at major tournaments like the EuroBasket.

That would appear to be the case with Slovenia, who suffered the late withdrawal of an NBA champion Beno Udrih to a knee injury but still have Sani Becirovic and Jaka Lakavic as ballhandlers.

Both Climamio Bologna's Becirovic, who has battled back from a serious knee injury and gotten his career on track, and Panathinaikos playmaker Jaka Lakovic are receiving a lot of attention ahead of Friday's opening game against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Primos Brezec
Slovenia have a fearsome frontline with Primos Brezec and Rasho Nesterovic
Team manager Tone Krump says even with no Udrih, the team is ready.

"All of the players are okay," he said to PA Sport. "They had practice this morning (Thursday) and will have practice later this afternoon.

"We are very optimistic ahead of the game against Bosnia. Our main goal is to finish as one of the first eight teams in the tournament.

"That is why we are here.

"That is something we have been unable to do in all of the previous EuroBaskets we have taken part in."

Slovenian do have a loaded roster with NBA centers Rasho Nesterovic and Primoz Brezec giving them a potent one-two punch, and New Orleans Hornet forward Bostjan Nachbar is another excellent player who will have to be guarded by the Bosnians.

The team also has youth in Erazem Lorbek, a member of Climamio's title-winning side last season in Italy's Lega A.

"The atmosphere in the team is very good," Krump added.

"All the players are focused and they know how important it is to start a tournament with a win."

As for who the starters will be, Krump added: "The coach (Ales Pipan) will make his decision after tonight's practice."

If Slovenia have an embarrassment of riches in talent and the ability to overcome injuries, Bosnia are not so lucky.

Barisa Krasic was not fully fit and coach Mensur Bajramovic decied not to take any chances and left him out of the final squad.

Bosnia do have sharpshooting Efes Pilsen star Henry Domercant in the mix now.

The Illinois-born player applied for and received citizenship, which should pose some problems for the Slovenians who will find it difficult to contain guard Damir Mrsic.

Nevertheless, coach Mensur Bajramovic knows his players are outsiders.

He said: "We will fight to win one game and I hope we can surprise a few people and advance to the second phase."

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