For the first time at EuroBasket, the host nation of Slovenia didn’t have the athleticism nor the answers. Goran Dragic’s national team fell 72-62 against France on Wednesday in the tournament’s quarterfinal round, putting Slovenia in a desperate final game against Serbia. The winner will get automatic qualification to the 2014 FIBA Championships in Spain.
Dragic scored 18 points and dolled out six assists on Wednesday, but a long and athletic French team finally played to its talent level. For France, Spurs point guard Tony Parker scored 27 points, Blazers swingman Nicolas Batum added 14 and former Suns forward Boris Diaw scored 10. In a tight defensive battle, France’s size was too much.
Any drive by Dragic was challenged, and he shot just 6-for-16 from the floor. Dragic had been apt at taking over in the final 10 minutes throughout EuroBasket 2013, but that was hard in the quarterfinals for a variety of reasons. For one, he was in foul trouble and picked up his fourth with 6:35 to play and Slovenia trailing just 54-49. The personal was against Batum, who scored a fastbreak And 1 on the play that seemingly gave France the upper hand for the rest of the game.
Down the stretch, Dragic forced things a bit, though it’s hard to say it wasn’t warranted. Batum even earned a defensive assignment against the Suns point guard and used his length to disrupt any blow-bys or stepback attempts.
Even when Dragic successfully penetrated, his teammates weren’t knocking down shots. Slovenia shot just 34 percent for the game, and though France didn’t do much better by hitting 41 percent of its attempts, it did win the battle of second-chance points 20-6.
Zoran Dragic scored 12 points to help his brother in the losing effort, and former NBA forward Bostjan Nachbar added 10.
Tomorrow, Slovenia will have a quick turnaround to face a likely surly Serbian team that entered the final tournament round of EuroBasket as the top seed in Group E but lost to Spain 90-60 in the quarterfinals. The winner will earn a ticket to the World Cup — the top seven seeds in EuroBasket will qualify — while the loser will again be faced with fighting luck to make it to Spain in 2014.
Serbia is led by former NBA center Nenad Krstic and young gunner, Nemanja Nedovic, the Golden State Warriors’ 30th overall draft pick — the pick that Phoenix originally owned but traded to move up a spot in order to select Kentucky guard Archie Goodwin.
Suns big man Slava Kravtsov will also play in the quarterfinals Thursday as Ukraine takes on Croatia.
- Former Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter has been officially added to Mark Jackson’s staff in Golden State. Hunter compiled a 12-29 record after replacing Alvin Gentry last season and was originally hired by former general Lance Blanks as a player development director at the end of the 2011-12 season.