Goran Dragic stifled by Team USA, Hedo Turkoglu leads Turkey over Russia

After a stellar performance in Slovenia’s opening victory over Tunisia, foul trouble and Team USA’s pressure defense limited The Dragon Sunday morning in America’s 99-77 win over Slovenia.

Goran Dragic scored just seven points on 2-for-8 shooting (with three coming on a garbage trey in the game’s final minute) to go with four assists, two boards and three turnovers.

Foul trouble plagued Dragic all game, as he picked up three first-half fouls that kept forcing him to the bench, and none of them were particularly smart fouls (particularly the third as Dragic tried to provide pressure in the backcourt).

He did a nice job setting up his teammates as aside from his four dimes teammates blew shots or were fouled on a number of other setups. However, he seemed to force the issue too much with his own offense, taking difficult contested shots that you rarely see him take in Phoenix.

With the Suns, he can let the game come to him since there isn’t too much of a scoring burden on Dragic in Phoenix. If he has an open opportunity then he can take it, but the Suns don’t rely on his offense.

It’s a different story with Slovenia, so Dragic forced a number of pull-up jumpers that are very low percentage shots and he predictably missed.

His court vision impressed me most in this game as Dragic was often able to find mismatches inside off the pick-and-roll and he made a number of nice passes, he just struggled to score against the Americans’ pressure defense.

The loss drops Slovenia to 1-1 in pool play. That ties them with Croatia, their next opponent on Monday at 6:30 a.m. MST. This will be a huge game because it will essentially clinch the winner a berth in the elimination round and give that squad a very good chance at a top-three pool seed along with Team USA (2-0) and Brazil (2-0), who will face off Monday at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN.

Brazil took down Tunisia on Sunday behind a big game from former Sun Leandro Barbosa. LB exploded for 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting (2-for-2 on threes) to go with six boards and four steals but no assists.

Turkoglu keeps Turkey undefeated in pool play

Meanwhile in Group C, Hedo Turkoglu led Turkey to an important 65-56 victory over Russia to up their record to 2-0 in pool play.

Turkoglu did not shoot particularly well in this one — 6-for-16 from the field, 2-for-8 from three — but by taking more than twice as many shots as his closest teammates he managed to lead Turkey in scoring with 14 points while also recording three rebounds, three assists and a block and a steal.

For the tournament Turkoglu is now 6-for-22 from the field (27.3 percent) and 2-for-12 from three (16.7 percent), but really all that matters is he’s leading his squad to victories.

Russia (1-1) had previously beaten Puerto Rico, so now Turkey is tied atop Group C with Greece (2-0), the group favorite that squeaked by China by eight and Puerto Rico by three. The Greeks were also blown out in a home exhibition game by Team USA, so with the home-court advantage factored in for Turkey, they have a real shot at winning the group.

With Greece next on Turkey’s schedule when they resume play on Tuesday, a victory there would but Turkoglu’s squad in the driver’s seat to take the group.

Up next: Dragic and Slovenia will face off against Croatia on Monday at 6:30 a.m. MST and Turkoglu and Turkey get Greece at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

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Tags: Brazil FIBA World Championship Goran Dragic Hedo Turkoglu Leandro Barbosa Slovenia Team USA Turkey

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