Slovenia makes last cut before Zagreb trip

Young big man Ziga Dimec was the last player to be left out of the Slovenian 12-man squad which travelled to Zagreb on Thursday to compete in EuroBasket 2015 Group C.

Head coach Jure Zdovc was considering up until late whether to include the 22-year-old Dimec on the final roster rather than Sasa Zagorac and in the end he opted for the more experienced 31-year-old center.

Zagorac, who had previously played for Slovenia only in junior level, is therefore to make his belated senior national team debut in Zagreb.

The veteran big man is one of only four new faces on the Slovenian team in comparison to the squad that represented the nation in last year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup, in Spain.

The other are 22-year-old point guard Luka Rupnik, and 24-year-old forward Mitja Nikolic and veteran guard Nebojsa Joksimovic.

Despite his young age, Rupnik is not a debutant on the senior national team as he had stepped out at EuroBasket 2011, although he only played with the U20 side in the years that followed.

Nikolic on the other hand had previously suited up for Slovenia at youth level, registering his last participation in the U20 European Championship of 2011.

Joksimovic had played at EuroBasket 2013 under former coach, Bozidar Maljkovic, but was not included in the World Cup team as Zdovc had chosen instead to give a chance in the backcourt to young prospect Aleksej Nikolic.

Zoran Dragic, who averaged 12.9 points 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in last summer’s big tournament, is ready to reprise his protagonistic role this summer especially in view of the absence of his brother, Goran, this summer.

The younger of the Dragic brothers is flanked on the wing by Klemen Prepelic and Jaka Blazic while Jaka Klobucar is expected to start at the point guard position.

Veteran power forward Jure Balazic has taken over the role of team captain from Goran Dragic and, together with Uros Slokar, Miha Zupan, young center Alen Omic as well as Zagorac of course, they form the frontcourt line-up this year.

Slovenia’s EuroBasket 2015 campaign gets under way on Saturday against the Group C hosts, Croatia.

Zdovc’s team will then take on Georgia, the Netherlands, Greece and finally The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Slovenia EuroBasket 2015 roster: Nebojsa Joksimovic, Luka Rupnik, Klemen Prepelic, Jaka Blazic, Mitja Nikolic, Zoran Dragic, Miha Zupan, Jure Balazic, Sasa Zagorac, Alen Omic, Jaka Klobucar, Uros Slokar.

Source: fibaeurope.com