Feb 11, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic (1) with head coach Jeff Hornacek against the Miami Heat at the US Airways Center. The Heat defeated the Suns 103-97. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2014 FIBA World Cup: Suns back Goran Dragic’s decision to play

Goran Dragic might have been hesitant to join his Slovenian national squad for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, so it surprised many when he committed to do just that earlier this week.

Or maybe it’s not so surprising considering the loyalty he displayed returning to Phoenix two years ago and then refusing to sit down during last year’s historically bad year.

Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said Thursday that the team stands behind its point guard’s decision to join his national team, even if it does mean he will be putting his body through around round of battles.

“If he wants to play, we’re happy he wants to play, put it that way,” McDonough said. “He had the best year of his career last year after having come right off the European Championships. If that’s what he feels like he needs to do to get ready to play, then we support him.”

During Dragic’s MIP award ceremony this summer, coach Jeff Hornacek said he and McDonough visited Slovenia to watch Dragic as his country hosted the EuroBasket tournament in 2013. That’s when they saw the quiet point guard grow into the leader, and that, they believe, played a large part in his growth during the Suns’ 48-win season.

And while the team is OK with Dragic’s decision, they are working to keep their best player fresh for the 2014-15 campaign.

“It’s a great honor to play for your country,” McDonough said. “We want to be strategic and selective about how many exhibition games he plays in and his practice schedule to make sure his body is preserved for the year, but at the end of the day it’s his call and we support him 100 percent.”

  • l.ili

    about national team…

    1. he will work individually on his shooting and all around game=he will be doing workouts jeff and suns organization will give him to do
    2. he won’t be playing all preparation games (as you are afraid of him being worn out)…(slo national team will be traveling to china…he won’t go with them), BUT those preparation games he will play with team will be good and will be instead of the games in your summer league
    3. he will be leader of the team again, which he admitted helped him to gain his confidence (euro 2013) and gain experience which hepled him a lot in playing with this new suns team
    4. world cup is shorter than euro cup
    5. and mostly at the begging of the season he will be in rhythm with games (he point that out in a interview), which was great when suns game in nov started he was ready
    6. he himself will be more happy…he grow up with these guys, they are like a family (when he was talking about a chance not playing with them you could see it in his eyes he wanted too, but there was pressure from suns, and also he knew his ankle was in bad shape which might stop him),
    7. since they are like family he feels confident—guys help each other—he is more of a vocal leader too—-that was one of the aspects he said he wants to improve in his club games…to be more of a vocal leader

    well I listed to you positive points about his participation in slo national team………as you might think there is a chance for injury….well there is a chance for injury during summer league games too

    and also…

    instead of preparation games he would have to go to usa and participate in summer league which was the minus——he said he rather stays home and prepare with national team (+workouts from jeff and team), and stays in Slovenia with his family=meaning his son Mateo (if he was participating in summer league he would go to usa alone without his family-maja and mateo would stay in Slo which he did’t want)

    • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

      Is Zoran just as good as Goran?

      • l.ili

        you have to know European basketball is way different than basketball in NBA…while
        in the NBA the most important thing is how athletic you are and how good you
        are on the offence, in Europe is different thinking–defense is more important
        and also dunking is not everything, but how you organize your offence, there is
        a lot of passes between the teammates and then you have beautiful ending (in
        the NBA you often see one guy run from one side of the court to another and
        score, and the opposite doesn’t give much resistance–no defense)

        While I was watching NBA game one of the commentators said: The
        best offence will beat the best defense there is.

        But in the Europe the thinking is: With great defense you can
        stop the best offence there is.

        ZORAN: I think he will need to adjust to NBA style of play (he
        is not far: he likes to play fast–he may be even faster than Goran is, and he
        is great at penetration), but his major strength is defense (he also said
        himself he prefers defense and his main goal is to stop the best scoring guy
        from opposite team and get him to miss half of the shots), but if we look to
        offence game (in Eurobasket 2013 he surprised me with some major shots from
        three, he wasn’t know for that before) he improved it too in Malaga this season
        however I don’t know if it’s enough for being major threat in the NBA…

        But as I said as a player he will need to adjust to NBA style of
        play….I know he can do it, but I think he needs some time (hope teams in the
        NBA, can be patient and can give him opportunity…look at Goran: this year he
        had opportunity to show the league what he can do…before he was always some backup
        guy who was overlooked all the time)