|21 June 2010|
Important figures in last year's Slovenia team that earned a second straight trip to the FIBA World Championship are not in the 17-man preliminary squad for this summer's event in Turkey.
The Lorbek brothers, Erazem and Domen, and veteran big man Matjaz Smodis - a strong presence in the locker room - will not be playing for new coach Memi Becirovic when the Slovenians compete in Group B of the Preliminary Round against Team USA, Brazil, Croatia, Iran and Tunisia.
Nevertheless, Slovenia should have one of the most exciting teams in Istanbul, particularly with a backcourt that has Goran Dragic (Phoenix Suns), Beno Udrih (Sacramento Kings), national team captain Jaka Lakovic (Regal Barcelona) and Sani Becirovic (Armani Jeans Milano) in the preliminary squad.
Becirovic, who replaced Jure Zdovc at the helm as national team coach, said: "In recent months we have had some interviews with players who have largely responded to the invitation.
"There are some who I would like to see in the team, unfortunately, it is primarily due to fatigue or injuries that they will not play this year.
"Erazem Lorbek said that he needs some rest and is ready participate next year, as well as Matjaz Smodis whose season was marked by the back injury and still does not feel able to appear. Domen Lorbek has some problems with the knees."
Mirza Begic was initially meant to be in the team but a finger injury has left him as one of three players as reserves.
"The team has a lot of young players, particularly Zoran Dragic, Dino Muric and Marko Vranjkovic, who is still a reserve, as we look to the future," Becirovic said.
"As captain, I put Jaka Lakovic, who in the past years has been extremely loyal and present at all tournaments and has an exceptional competitive and human quality, so he deserves it.
"I believe that we have a good team, whose primary goal is reaching the eighth-finals.
"As I said, I am a winner and I know that we will do our best and that Slovenia will be represented very well."
Slovenia preliminary squad: Jaka Lakovic, Sani Becirovic, Sandi Cebular, Goran Dragic, Zoran Dragic, Jaka Klobucar, Beno Udrih, Samo Udrih, Goran Jagodnik, Dino Muric, Bostjan Nachbar, Uros Slokar, Miha Zupan, Primoz Brezec, Matej Krusic, Hasan Rizvic and Gasper Vidmar. Standby: Mirza Begic, Aleksandar Capin and Marko Vranjkovic.