FIBA Eurobasket 2013 opened its group play on Wednesday, and all three Euro-Suns in Slovenia for the event took their fair share of lumps to start the event. In Group C play, Slovenian Goran Dragic had a rough individual game but saw his team pull out a slim victory against the Czech Republic and Wizards forward Jan Vesely, while Marcin Gortat’s Polish squad couldn’t hang with a Georgia squad led by former Phoenix assistant Igor Kokosov. Also in action was the Suns recent acquisition, Slava Kravtsov, who made a big play for Ukraine in a close victory against Belgium.
By the way, if you want to see the total list of NBA players playing in this year’s Eurobasket, I compiled a list of all of them for SB Nation. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports put together a primer of the event, in case you were wondering about the format and players who are missing.
Dragic has scoring struggles against the Czechs
Individually, it couldn’t have gone too much worse for Goran Dragic in front of his own nation, but Slovenia pulled out a 62-60 win against the Czech Republic to make his box score reading an afterthought. The Slovenian point guard went 3-of-15 from the floor and didn’t hit his first shot until the third quarter, at which point he threw his hands up to the heavens as if to say, “finally.”
Slovenia had a single-digit lead for much of the second half but a rally by the Czechs behind Vesely’s 17 points made it testy down the stretch. Dragic looked willing to take over, but on one crucial play lost control of his dribble going over a routine pick-and-roll and then, once he penetrated, kicked a bad pass to an open three-point shooter. That was perhaps a microcosm of his day, as the Slovenian’s eventually got a shooting foul on that same play.
To be fair, Dragic did record nine assists and controlled the tempo well in a tight game. But he also had six turnovers.
That won’t be good enough in a Group C that includes Eurobasket favorite Spain.
Gortat doesn’t get enough help in Poland’s loss
Marcin Gortat put in 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks but in the end Poland didn’t have enough to beat a Georgia team led by former Suns assistant Igor Kokosov. Georgia pulled out an 84-67 win Wednesday.
Gortat’s assist totals likely should have been greater. Georgia put the pressure on the Suns center and former Suns big man Maciej Lampe with double-teams, but the Polish perimeter scorers hit an abysmal 3-of-16 from beyond the arc. Per Eurobasket2013.org:
“We knew that they have two dominant big men so we were prepared for that, we knew we had to double-team all the time and it worked out well,” said Sanikhidze, explaining Georgia’s defensive game plan.
Whenever the Polish big men kicked the ball out, it proved fruitless – Poland went 0-for-10 from three-point range in the first three quarters.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s perimeter players attacked Gortat and Lampe on the other end to pull them out of the paint and into uncomfortable defensive positions on the outside.
Suns’ Kravtsov plays key role in Ukraine’s victory
Slava Kravtsov played just 22 minutes for Ukraine, but one defensive play set up the game-winning points scored by American-slash-Ukrainian Pooh Jeter. The newly-acquired Suns center chased down Sam Van Rossom and blocked his layup attempt to prevent Belgium from adding to a 57-55 advantage with about 40 seconds to play, which then allowed Jeter to score a three-point play, the go-ahead bucket for a 58-57 win.
Kravtsov only went 1-of-6 from the floor, but his block and single made shot — a dunk — showed that he has a little more explosiveness than he might be given credit for. He had three turnovers as well, but also grabbed five rebounds and blocked four shots for Mike Fratello’s squad.