Slovenia scored just two points in the final quarter of FIBA World Cup group play on Thursday and lost to Lithuania, 67-64, falling to second place at the end of group play. The defeat ended Group D action, and the Slovenians could face Team USA in the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup rather than in the semifinals, which would have happened with a win.
With that, it’s a painful blow to Slovenia and Goran Dragic, who earlier Thursday went to Twitter and complained of the tanking done by the Australia squad that fell to third place after a more avoidable loss to Angola. Turns out, the strategy of avoiding the second-place slot worked out for Australia, the third-place finisher in Group D that, like Lithuania, could get to the semifinals of the tournament without seeing the red, white and blue.
Slovenia, meanwhile, will face the Dominican Republic on Saturday.
Dragic scored 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting from the floor on Thursday, added four assists and had three turnovers. In the second half, Dragic took on flying elbow from a Lithuanian player, and from that point forward Slovenia seemingly lost control of a game it had in hand for most of the afternoon. Lithuania didn’t even need Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas to carry the offensive load down the strength. Instead in the fourth quarter after trailing 62-55 at the end of the third, it was a strong defensive effort and a stale Slovenian offense that ended the day in positive fashion for the victor.
Dragic and Co. found themselves down four points with 1:19 left, but a two-point game was as close as the Slovenians got. Dragic drove with 1:10 left and dumped it off to big man Alen Omic, who missed an easy layup that would have brought Slovenia within two points — Omic missed three shots near the rim in the fourth alone. A following stop against Lithuania ended with The Dragon taking the ball the length of the court for a transition score. Down by three after a made Lithuanian free throw, Dragic used a dribble-handoff to Domen Lorbek, but the jumper missed badly and time wound out.