Slovenian legend Jaka Lakovic has decided to retire from international basketball at the age of 35.
It brings to an end a storied career – and he ended it in the possible way – in-front of his home fans at Eurobasket 2013 in Slovenia, as he contributed heavily to their qualification for this summer’s FIBA World Cup of Basketball by finishing fifth.
It all started for Lakovic way back at Eurobasket 2001 in Turkey, when he debuted for Slovenia in a shorted-lived tournament where they ended up in 15th overall.
“After careful consideration and looking at the whole season, I came to the realization that my body is no longer so young and needs more time for regeneration, also preparing for the new season at the club, which is why I decided EuroBasket 2013 was my last time with the team,” Lakovic said in a statement released by the Slovenian Basketball Federation.
“I think I ended my national team career in the best possible way – on the home court.
“My heart has always been and always will be with the Slovenian national team and its fans, who will be with me forever and remain an exceptional memory. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all the support.”
It was widely expected that Lakovic would announce his retirement after Eurobasket last summer, but instead, the veteran pondered. Then after eight months of deliberating with his family, and the thought of many exciting prospects that are coming through the ranks that deserve their chance to live their dreams of representing Slovenia; his choice was made.
Lakovic’s legacy though will always live.
The guard has appeared in two world championships [2006, 2010], seven Eurobaskets [2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013] and he was the teams third highest scorer at the 2008 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Greece.
While he hasn’t discussed his overall future, Lakovic is still competing domestically. He averaged 10.2 points a game this season in Italy, playing for Sidigas Avellino.
The Ljubljana-born player has enjoyed a great deal of success in his club career, highlighted by a Euroleague championship in 2010 with Barcelona. He is currently the Euroleague’s third-highest all-time scorer with 2,524 points in 218 games.