El Dragon Breathes Fire, But Slovenia Falters

El Dragon with the layup against Russia

The Phoenix Suns' very own Goran Dragic finished his national team's tourney on a personal high, but his team faded down the stretch to finish 8th overall in the 2010 FIBA World Championships.

Today, Slovenia (not televised, so I'm just going on box score and writeup from the link provided above) was on a roll in the third quarter, up 50-36, when Russia got hot (or Slovenia faded) and eventually won the game 83-78. Russia finishes 7th, and Slovenia 8th. The 1-6 spots will be decided tomorrow.

Still, a tiny country with a TOTAL population of less than half the Phoenix metro area, should be very proud of their accomplishments. They finished 8th in the World (and 4th in Eurobasket a year ago), despite each time missing at least 1 important front-court player.

For his part, Goran can be proud of what he's done. 

For the tournament, here are Goran's per-game numbers: 12.7 points, 4.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds (over 9 games)

This is definitely a huge step up for Goran from previous campaigns with his national squad. He took over as his team's best all-around player. He shared the PG duties with 2-time Euroleague MVP Jaka Lakovic, starting every game in the backcourt with him and taking turns with the ball. He led the team in both points per game, and assists per game.

This is the first time he's had expectations to carry, from both the team and the media, and all in all he handled them with class and humility.

He never once tried to make it "the Goran show", instead always trying to stay within the scheme of his team's offense.

His assist/turnover ratio wasn't bad (1.5/1) but not great either. And after sputtering against tougher competition in his first 2 tries (7p, 4a against Team USA, and 5p, 2a against Turkey, who will likely meet in the Finals tomorrow), he responded well in his last 2 tough games (19p, 2a, 2r and 3 stls against Spain, then 15p, 7a, 3r against Russia).

The downside is that Slovenia lost all 4 of those games.

Still, Goran and Slovenia should be proud.

If there was a medal for the ratio between total population and World Championships finish, Slovenia would win gold.

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