Goran Dragic scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and led Slovenia in every major statistical category with 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists as his team shocked Eurobasket favorite Spain, 78-69, on Thursday.
In the front end of the fourth, Dragic hit a long two-pointer, found a teammate for a three-pointer, scored a fastbreak layup over Marc Gasol and finished off a three-point play. The end result was a 63-61 lead for Slovenia with six minutes to play in the game.
Dragic’s dunk with less than two minutes left gave the Slovenians a 72-68 advantage, their biggest lead of the game. He scored two more baskets in the lane as he continued his attack that sealed Slovenia’s win in front of its home crowd.
Held out for a good deal of the first half, Dragic played in control and sought out his teammates for most of the game. Occasionally, he displayed his spotty step-back jumper and struggled to hit those shots — but down the stretch, he attacked the paint, used his speed and took what Spain’s defense gave him.
By all means, it was an upset. Spain was faster, bigger and more athletic than Slovenia, yet the homecourt proved advantageous. Slovenia hit big shot after big shot and kept up with an NBA-laden roster before Dragic began asserting himself offensively down the stretch.
Poland gets sunk in final seconds against Czechs
A day after Goran Dragic and Slovenia held off the Czech Republic, it was Marcin Gortat and Poland’s turn. Like Wednesday, the game came down to free throws but instead, Poland was at the losing end despite controlling most of the game.
With four seconds left, Lubos Barton drilled a corner three-pointer off an inbounds pass for the Czechs after Gortat and Maciej Lampe each went 1-for-2 on free throws in the final minutes. The shot gave the Czech Republic a 69-68 victory and dropped Poland to 0-2.
Gortat finished with five points, nine rebounds, three blocks and four assists. By far, he had the best plus-minus of plus-15 and passed very well out of double teams. To no fault of Gortat’s own, it appears that Poland simply doesn’t have the perimeter threats to help he and Lampe on either end of the floor.
Kravtsov shows well against Israel
People might believe Slava Kravtsov was simply a throw-in to the Caron Butler deal that saved Phoenix a bit of money — maybe it’s true. Yet, he’s showing in FIBA play that he’s the least-talked-about, most-intriguing of the new Suns. On Thursday, he scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds as Ukraine dropped Israel 74-67.
Kravtsov played within himself and hit 6-of-8 shots. His fluidity for a big man is impressive thus far, and it’s not completely out of the question that he could have a role this year, especially if we’re talking about an impending trade of Gortat.