Goran Dragic, Hedo Turkoglu lead Slovenia and Turkey to FIBA quarterfinals showdown

Goran Dragic and Hedo Turkoglu may be new Phoenix Suns teammates, but for now they get to be opponents at least once more.

Dragic helped Slovenia (5-1) swiftly handle Australia 87-58 in the opening game of the elimination round at the FIBA World Championship Sunday while Turkoglu led Turkey (6-0) in a 95-77 route over France.

The victories set up a Slovenia-Turkey showdown for Wednesday.

Dragic spent a solid 28 minutes on the floor in Steve Nash-esque role. The 24-year-old point guard scored just 10 points (third-most for the Slovenians), but led all players with eight assists. No other player had more than three and the Australian team totaled only five.

Dragic did it all in the win, also contributing two steals and four rebounds. Six of his 10 points came from beyond the three-point arc, where he was 2-of-4 on the day.

Guard Jaka Lakovic led the Slovenians with 19 points and center Primoz Brezec added 12. Lakovic and Brezec opened the game by combining to put Slovenia up 9-0. Dragic then hit his first three-pointer to go up 12-0 before the Aussies finally put points on the board. It was a cakewalk from there for the Slovenians.

The Slovenians shot 51.9 percent as a team to Australia’s 41 percent. Slovenia also won the rebounding battle 39-22.

The Australians were outscored by double the amount they put in during the first half to take an insurmountable 42-21 lead into halftime. Despite scoring more points in the third quarter (24) than they did in the first half, the Australians just didn’t have the defense to stop The Dragon and company.

Dragic’s scoring has been a bit up and down throughout the tournament, but Sunday’s showing displayed his unselfishness and ability to be a playmaker much like the man he backs up in Phoenix. Through six tournament games, Dragic is averaging 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. His assists are eighth-most in the tournament.

Turkoglu spent plenty of time on the court as well Sunday, playing 25 minutes and having his way with the French for 20 points and four rebounds. Turkoglu was also on from long range, nailing 4-of-7 from deep.

Ironically, the Suns’ forward of the future spent good parts of the game matched up with the Suns’ forward of the past, Boris Diaw. Diaw finished the game leading all scorers with 21 points and five rebounds.

After Turkey went up 5-0 to start the game, the French kept it close the rest of the quarter, only trailing 19-14 entering the second. But the Turks slowly built up their lead, outscoring France 24-14 in the second quarter and 28-17 in the third.

Guard Sinan Guler added 17 points for Turkey and Chicago Bulls center Omer Asik netted 10 points and five rebounds.

Turkoglu’s strong three-point shooting stands out in this game as something to be optimistic about. Turkoglu’s shooting in the tournament has been quite spotty. He entered the game shooting just 32.1 percent from long range but hit 4-of-7 long balls in this one, so it was an improvement.

But it was against a weaker France team and it is still FIBA play. It remains to be seen if those kind of skills will carry over onto Planet Orange. His newfound love of the three-pointer should help him fit in quite well in Phoenix, though.

Up next: Wednesday’s 11 a.m. MST showdown should be a good one. Turkey remains undefeated in the tournament and Slovenia has surprised with just one loss, to the U.S.

Tags: FIBA World Championship Goran Dragic Hedo Turko Slovenia Turkey

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