From the first game of the tournament to the last, Slovenia remained unbeaten, and as a result, they are now Eurobasket champions at the first time of asking.
Goran Dragic marked his final game as an international player before retirement with 35 points to lead all scorers as Slovenia beat Serbia 93-85 to capture the Eurobasket title in Istanbul on Sunday night.
From the tournament’s opening game, where Slovenia beat Poland to tonight’s triumph in the finale, Slovenia have excited crowds with their attractive brand of basketball where the focus is on the team, not just the standouts Dragic and Luka Doncic but also Klemen Prepelic, who posted an impressive haul of 21 points, Anthony Randolph, who added 11 and Jaka Blazic, who had seven in limited minutes to name but a few.
Despite becoming runners-up, something that is becoming an annoying habit, Serbia had nothing to be ashamed of. Bogdan Bogdanovic had 22 points in a valiant effort and at one point in the contest, you sensed that they would find a way in as Slovenia seemed over-reliant at one point on Dragic. And with 3:37 remaining, a lay-up from Bogdanovic gave them an 82-80 lead and you felt that the momentum was shifting their way.
Slovenia though regrouped and stunned Serbia with a 12-0 run with the entire team contributing to the game-winning burst.
But selfishly, the night belonged to Dragic who was rightfully named the tournament’s MVP after the game. There was no doubt about it. This was his time. And it was the perfect send-off.
Slovenia though were on the blackfoot early on as the Serbians enjoyed the lead for the majority of the first quarter. Prepelic and Dragic brought Slovenia within touching distance but truth be told, the Slovenians were slow to get going.
It was the second quarter where Slovenia began to assert their dominance. Doncic fed Prepelic for a triple to give them a 30-28 lead which was followed by a dunk from Doncic off a missed three from Bogdanovic on the next possession.
The noise started to reverberate around the just over half-full Sinan Erdem Dome that was mainly a sea of Slovenian fans and Serbia could not find an answer for the now trademark clinical fast-break game that their opponents possessed and had beaten all before them.
— FIBA #Basketball (@FIBA) September 17, 2017
Slovenia managed to keep the lead, but apart from Dragic were struggling to put points on the board. Serbia sensed their chance and led by Bogdanovic chipped away at the deficit until they took an 82-80 lead late on in the final quarter.
Then Slovenia came together as a team, something that they have done throughout their unbeaten run throughout the tournament and had one more scoring outburst left in them.
And that outburst landed them the coveted Eurobasket crown.
All-Tournament team: Goran Dragic, Alexey Shved, Bogdan Bogdandovic, Luka Doncic and Pau Gasol.