It seems that EuroBasket competition never fails to amaze and the same can be said for this year’s tournament. Some teams and players failed under expectations, whereas others amazed with their performances, it’s a charm of the game that brings a smile on faces of ones and disappointment in eyes of the other. We saw everything, from new young players emerging as huge prospects and veterans showing they still got it. Nonetheless, we can safely say this year EuroBasket 2017 was one to remember and a great way to get us into the NBA preseason.
Of course, it’s not a secret anymore, Slovenia beat Serbia in the finals in Istanbul and brought home the gold medal, first time in their 26-year long history. It was a final no one dared to predict beforehand, but the closer we got to the finals more clear it was Slovenia came to Turkey to get a medal. Slovenia was without the doubt the biggest surprise in the competition. A small middle-European country dominated everyone in their way, from qualifications up to finals. beating the likes of Lithuania, France, Spain, and of course Serbia.
We won’t talk about the matches prior to the finals, but let’s take a look what happened in Istanbul in a match between Slovenia and Serbia. Slovenia started off the 1st half strong as they came out of the 2nd quarter with 9 point lead. Much of the Slovenian success in the 1st half is due to superb shooting from an NBA star Goran Dragic, who scored 26 points in 20 minutes and had a huge influence on the whole team. The second half did not start as well for Slovenia after their young star Luka Doncic suffered an injury, which ultimately led to him leaving the court. It’s hard to say what could he do if he hadn’t been injured, but one thing is for sure, with his superb performances in the tournament he has made a name for himself and some medias even see him as the 1st pick in NBA draft. Serbia used that and started attacking, slowly closing the margin. If that was not enough, Dragic also suffered an injury towards the end of the match, leaving his team to finish the job. That’s when Slovenia showed everyone they are not just a team based around 2 great players, but a complete team, that can hold its own even without Dragic and Doncic. The key man in the final few minutes was Prepelic with his shooting, which allowed Slovenia to stay in the lead and ultimately win the championship.
MVP of the tournament was no other but Goran Dragic, with 35 total points in the final. Keep in mind he scored 35 points in only the opening 3 quarters. All in all, he averaged 22.6ppg and 5.1 assists. Prior to the tournament, Goran Dragic said he will be leaving international basketball after EuroBasket 2017 and what a way to bow out, with an MVP title and a gold medal in his hands. We still hope he will change his mind for the upcoming World Championship, but that is yet unknown.
In conclusion, Slovenia wowed everyone, but they frankly deserved it, as they went through the whole tournament without a defeat. To be fair it’s impossible to point out a man that has led this team to the title as they all performed exceptionally well, as individuals and as a team. Serbia, on the other hand, has been a good opponent but sadly failed to outperform Slovenia, but they did not fail in providing us with spectacular finals match.