A One-Two Dragic Punch

13 July 2010

Just one year ago at the U20 European Championship in Rhodes, Greece, the sky did not seem to be the limit for any of the Slovenia players.

Their hopes of reaching the podium disappeared after defeats to Latvia, Spain and Russia at the start of the 16-team tournament.

But Slovenia salvaged some good memories with three straight victories to come in 13th.

With the country's senior team almost set to start preparing for the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, Zoran Dragic, a member of that U20 side in Rhodes, looks as if he may have a big future after all.

Slovenia coach Memi Becirovic has included 21-year-old Zoran in his preliminary squad.

"I trained a lot in the last year and having my coach's trust was also very important," Zoran said to Basketball World News, explaining the reasons for his recent success in the Slovenian First Division where he plays for the Ljubljana-based Geoplin Slovan.

Slovan is a team that's well known for producing excellent players.

Zoran's brother, Goran Dragic, along with Emir Preldzic, Jaka Lakovic, Jan Vesely and Gasper Vidmar all played there.

Does Zoran have a realistic chance of making it to Turkey with Slovenia where they will face Team USA, Brazil, Croatia, Iran and Tunisia in Preliminary Round Group B?

"It's a big honor just being on the preliminary list, but I will do my best to come among the last 12," Zoran said.

"I think the chances are good."

8. Janis Strelnieks (Latvia), 10. Zoran Dragic (Slovenia)
Zoran is a good shot blocker for an outside player

Zoran did show signs of being a special player last summer.

Though he struggled shooting the ball from long range, Zoran led Slovenia in scoring at better than 16 points per game.

He scored 26, 18 and 22 points, respectively, in wins over Germany, Israel and Belgium.

Just as his brother has the ability to take over games with his defense, so does Zoran.

His average of 2.5 steals per contest was second best in the competition.

Zoran also led Slovenia in blocked shots at 0.5 per game.

At Slovan, he raised eyebrows with his play and it's not surprising when considering he has plenty of inspiration in his brother.

Goran made headlines on numerous occasions, including in the play-offs against the San Antonio Spurs.

"It's unbelievable what happened," Zoran said.

"This is just another confirmation of how good he is. What he did was superb.

"His display against San Antonio in the play-offs, when he scored 23 points in the decisive last quarter, tells you how good he really is."

Zoran hopes to follow in his brother's footsteps one day.

"His departure to the NBA gave me even more desire to succeed," Zoran said.

"I want to follow him across the ocean and become a great basketball player like him.

"Basketball is my life. I think I'm on a good path, but there is still much that must be done."

Zoran, who was speaking while on a short holiday break with his brother on the island of Murter in Croatia, is confident he will become just as good as Goran.

"Maybe even better, who knows," he said, laughing.




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