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Slovenia: It's All In The Family

11 March 2005

Basketball is a family affair for Erazem Lorbek, the prodigious Slovenian talent who is shooting to fame with Climamio Bologna.

The 2.08m forward, who turned 21 last month, has a father, Radovan, who played the game.

Radovan Lorbek is now the general manager of Slovenian juggernauts Union Olimpija Ljubljana.

"I started playing at the age of six because of my dad," Erazem said to PA International.

"He introduced me to the game and I liked it immediately. But he always told me to go out and have fun on the court, to enjoy the moment and don't think too much about the future."

Erazem Lorbek has been having a lot of fun on the court since leading Slovenia to glory at the FIBA U20 European Championships in the Czech Republic last summer.

He averaged 17.4 points and 7.5 rebounds a game on his way to most valuable player honours in the competition.

It was a breath of fresh air because he had hardly played for Climamio Bologna the season before - his first in Italy after leaving Michigan State following his freshman year.

Now putting up big numbers for Climamio is the norm.

At Zalgiris Kaunas this week in the Euroleague Top 16, he tore apart the Lithuanian giants with 20 points and five rebounds.

The week before he scored a team-high 18 points and pulled down six rebounds as Climamio came from behind to defeat Panathinaikos 77-73.

His performances are almost certain to lead to his inclusion in the preliminary squad for Eurobasket 2005.

Having made his senior team debut in the second game of qualifying last September, he wants a regular spot in the national side.

"I was really happy," said Lorbek. "We won and I played 10 minutes."

Family connections

What must it have been like for Lorbek growing up, with his father having been so involved in basketball?

The youngster says that he has been around gyms for most of his life because of his dad.

"I would go and watch Olimpija train and go to their games," Lorbek said, looking back.

"I would also play at school and then continue to play with Olimpija's youth team and with the junior national team."

The dinner table was always full of basketball conversation at the Lorbek household and not just because of Erazem and Radovan.

Erazem's younger brothers, Domen (19) and Klemen (16), also play the sport.

Domen competes in the Adriatic League while Klemen plays in Slovenia's first division, and Erazem said: "They are good, they have the potential to become great players one day.

"Whenever I go home I get to practice with them.

"It's never too competitive, we practice defensive play and support each other. It wouldn't be fair to play one-on-one until they get older."

Basketball is important to the Lorbeks, but by no means is it their only activity.

A good basketball player is someone who can read the situation on the court and create incisive plays.
Erazem Lorbek

Erazem Lorbek may be the best piano player in Lega A, while Domen is also quite useful at  tickling the ivories.

"This passion comes from my father, Radovan," Erazem said to Gazetta dello Sport.

"My best piece is `The Entertainer' by Scott Joplin, an American composer."

Everyone knows that tune as the music in the movie classic `The Sting' - starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman.

"My father has taught me that to play music is to read and create," Erazem said.

"In other words, to be able to do two things at the same time.

"I studied piano for seven years but I had to cut back on it because I couldn't maintain school, basketball and music all at the same time.

"I dedicated all my efforts to school and basketball, but I still continue to play the piano.

"My brother, Domen is the virtuoso. He has been playing for 10 years and could have a career in it."

Playing the piano is similar to playing Hoops, Erazem says.

One thing is for sure. The name Erazem Lorbek is music to the ears of everyone at Climamio, and for Slovenia.

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