Two countries separated in 1991 from Yugoslavia will now meet 26 years later in the biggest game in European basketball.
Slovenia declared independence in 1991 with Serbia much later on in 2006 but they were part of the Yugoslavian basketball powerhouse that came to an end in 1991. Between them they won an Olympic gold, three World Cups and five Eurobasket crowns.
But since both sides gained independence, they have had contrasting performances in major international tournaments. For Serbia, they will be the more experienced going into this game having contested the Eurobasket 2009 final, as well as the 2014 World Cup final and Olympic gold medal game last year in Rio. Unfortunately, they lost all three.
But for Slovenia, they will enter their first ever major final and will head to Sunday still undefeated. It’s a game that will be too close to call.
Tournament form – Slovenia: WWWWWWWW – Serbia WLWWWWWW
Breakdown: Slovenia played an almost flawless second-half during their beat down of Spain in the Semi-Finals. Doncic and Dragic were unstoppable, taking turns as playmakers, the shooters were on fire from deep while big men Anthony Randolph and Gasper Vidmar have been energetic inside.
It’s a well-rounded and brilliantly coached team with everyone playing their roles to perfection. Obviously, Serbia will have to be at their best to overcome them and need to slow the game down. Slovenia love to play in transition and run and gun which has been testament to their big scores in recent games.
Serbia need to ensure they don’t turn the ball over and can control the paint. Marjanovic looms as a key figure and, as he usually does, has a notable size advantage but faces tough opposition in Randolph and Vidmar, who combined brilliantly against Spain’s frontcourt.
Serbia will be hoping point guard Stefan Jovic can play after he hobbled off with a leg injury against Russia otherwise more burden will be on Bogdanovic’s shoulders.
If Serbia are going to win, they need more contributors beyond Marjanovic and Bogdanovic. A possible x-factor could be small forward Vladimir Lucic, who came up huge against Russia with 13 points and 8 rebounds and will be looked upon to repeat that type of performance.
Breakdown via FIBA