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Stars' Brothers Proving Their Worth

08 September 2009
By Simon Wilkinson

Erazem Lorbek and Beno Udrih have helped Slovenia make great strides in basketball over the years, but in the early stages of EuroBasket 2009 in Warsaw, it is their unheralded brothers who deserve all the praise.

Erazem may have led all players with a game-high 19 points but it was Domen Lorbek and Samo Udrih who combined for nine of Slovenia's 22 fourth-quarter points as they pulled away to beat Great Britain 72-59 on Monday and get their campaign off to a winning start.

Samo made his bow in an official senior international competition in the win and his astute play down the stretch almost made everyone forget about his older brother's absence from the tournament.

The guard for Spanish outfit Estudiantes Madrid though wishes Beno had been here with him to share the moment.

"Since we started playing basketball together as kids about 15 years ago, I have always dreamed of playing on the national team alongside him (Beno)," said Samo who, at age 30, is three years older than the Sacramento Kings point guard.

"So when I made it on the team and then he got injured ahead of the tournament it looked like fate was not on our side. I just hope he will get back on the court as soon as possible."

Samo is well aware that fans around the world are more familiar with his brother than with him, but he doesn't feel in any way envious or jealous.

"I don't know that I can say I ever felt like I was in his shadow," he offered. "The way I see it maybe he was luckier in his career. But I don't like to compare our careers too much because it doesn't feel right."

Spoken like a true, proud, protective and well-intentioned big brother.

Meanwhile, Domen has found a way to make a name for himself, something that doesn't come easy when your father (Radovan Lorbek) is a legendary figure in Slovenian basketball (as a player, coach and scout) and the current president of the Adriatic League.

When you then look at your two brothers and see the older one (Erazem) is one of the best players in Europe while the younger one (Klemen) is a sought-after prospect, you figure you have your work cut out in order to stand out and impress on your own merits.

Domen has done just that, gaining a reputation for being one of the best outside shooters. He showed just why by striking at the right time against Great Britain.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu made a free-throw in the opening minute of the final frame to get his team within 54-50, but Domen answered right back with a wing three-pointer. That started an 11-2 run capped off by Samo's own long bomb to put the game well and truly out of reach.

And with Slovenia missing influential players Matjaz Smodis and Uros Slokar, Erazem expects his brother to step up his play as he did on Monday.

"Domen played very well and we all hope that he can keep it up. Every player on the team has to live up to his responsibilities and play his role for us to be successful," he said.

The 24-year-old Benetton Treviso guard is just fine with his brother's tough love.

"He (Erazem) is one of the best players in Europe so I have a lot of respect for him and I just enjoy whenever we get a chance to play together," said Domen.

And Slovenia are counting on Samo filling his brother's void as well as Domen's deadly shooting to make a run deep into this tournament.

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