Nachbar, Slovenia Have A New Year's Wish

07 January 2013

EUROBASKET 2013

By Dimitris Kontos

Bostjan Nachbar
Seasoned campaigner Bostjan Nachbar is thriving in the Euroleague and Beko BBL with Bamberg

Bostjan Nachbar is a well-spoken, well-travelled player who carries himself with the quiet confidence of a man of the world.

The Slovenian forward, who turns 33 next month, has spent part of his career in the NBA, has plied his trade in Russia, Turkey and Italy among other countries and is now on the books of German champions Brose Baskets Bamberg.

He first suited up for the senior national team in the Semi-Final Round of EuroBasket 2001 and, although he was not on the team that travelled to the Final Round in Turkey, he's had his fair share of big tournaments in the years that followed.

Nachbar has seen action in three EuroBasket Final Rounds and two World Championships and played alongside the previous generation of Slovenian basketball, including the likes of Marko Milic and EuroBasket 2013 ambassador Radoslav Nesterovic.

One thing he hasn't done yet, is play with Slovenia at home.

"We wanted the EuroBasket for a long time and it's finally going to be in Slovenia, I think we deserve it because we are a basketball country," he told FIBAEurope.com.

"We might be small, but our love for the sport is big and everyone is getting excited.

"I think it's the number one topic of discussion in the streets of Slovenia so its going to be huge, for sure."

Even a veteran like Nachbar, who's learned to stay unaffected by the crowd in all kinds of arenas and in all kinds of places, is looking forward to tasting the EuroBasket-host experience.

"Our fans are incredibly loud, if you look at the last couple of EuroBaskets and World Championships we probably had the biggest crowd, out of all the teams there," he offered.

"It's going to be even bigger in Slovenia, and what's most important is that our fans are very supportive and very positive.

"We don't feel pressure playing in front of our fans so I think it's just a big plus for us.

"I'm happy for our team as a player but I'm also happy for them, because it will be the first, and probably the last, time they get to see us playing at home, at least while this generation has been playing."

Although it's difficult to imagine Nachbar as a superstitious person, he is still well within his rights to express a wish ahead of the moment he will add this special experience to his memoirs, when EuroBasket 2013 tips off on 4 September.

"We came so close to getting a medal so many times before, and we hope this is going to be the year we finally reach one of the top three spots," he admitted.

"But at the same time we realise the road to get there will be tough because the EuroBasket is such a demanding tournament.

"It's three weeks of top basketball and whoever is in the best form during that period, wins it."

"We know it's not going to be easy, but the wish is there."

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

The hosts will be facing the Czech Republic in the opening game and will then take on Georgia, Poland, Spain and Croatia in First Round Group C.

The 2.06 forward did not stay up to watch the draw in Postojna Cave in November, although the last two opponents caught his eye.

"I didn't have any expectations before the draw, we will play whoever we would have to play," he shrugs his shoulders.

10. Edo Muric (Slovenia)
"He [Edo Muric] hasn't seen enough EuroBaskets;" Nachbar teases his young teammate

"That said, Spain is always one of the top teams in Europe and there is always a big rivalry between Croatia and Slovenia there, so it's going to be interesting right from the start.

"I kind of like that, we want that pressure from the beginning, we don't want to win some easy games first and then when the big games come along find it hard to deal with the pressure, we prefer to have it from early on."

This sounds a lot like what fellow Slovenian international Edo Muric had told FIBAEurope.com after the draw.

The young forward admitted he was happy to see Spain was drawn in Group C, in that Slovenia could hope to avoid facing the reigning European champions in the quarter-finals again, like at EuroBasket 2011.

"He [Muric] hasn't seen enough EuroBaskets; I have," Nachbar laughed teasingly.

"It comes down to how you play in every game, not to how others play or who they are.

"As soon as you start wishing for a certain opponent, it usually comes back and kicks you in the butt..."


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