Slovenia lost to France in 1/4 final game on EuroBasket.
Players in Slovenian team were very nervous before beginning of the game. The audience oh 12k pumped a lot of adrenalin in theirs veins. Before the whistle only Goran showed calmness. On the other side, French players were all seasoned veterans. Parker always say to the journalist, that he love to play in emotionally tensed environments, before the crowd of 10-20k fans – no matter if they are all against him. In first quarterfinal game Spain devastated Serbia, they already won in the first quarter. I admit, in that moment I thought that decent defeat would already be satisfactory for me.
But brothers Dragic – again – transformed adrenalin in additional energy. Slovenia started with more energy and they got small lead. Theirs game was more fluent, specially because of a few fast breaks. As it was expected, there were not a lot of points all together. It was 12:10 for Slovenia at the end of the 1st quarter.
Nothing crucial happened in 2nd quarter. Goran Dragic rested a bit on the bench, and at the end, it was still close, 24:26 for France. Goran played 15,10 min in first half, 2/3 for 2, 0/4 for 3 and 0/0 FT. He made also 2 AST and 1 REB.
The crucial moment was at the beginning of the 3rd quarter. A few missed shots, one silly mistake, Goran was bleeding and had to go to the bench, and France got a ten point lead. Then it was struggle to cut the advantage, we closed to three points lag, but at the end of 3rd quarter, it was 45:50. Although the three pointers started to fall in, the game for Slovenians became "chasing" game. Players knew that they are behind, they struggled to came back, but every time they come close, the France bounced back in more comfort lead - this was psychological blow on morale.
Goran was under stress too. First a bit annoyed on his teammates because of mistakes. Then, the clock was ticking down, it was always the pressure to score quickly. With every attack the tiredness was more the factor of his game. The defense on Goran was also focused. Main defender was Batum, long, athletic, agile player, and in the paint, Goran was regularly double-teamed. He became rush. But this team has a strategy, that in a clutch moments, its all on Goran. Problem was, that the France had too much lead, so this clutch moment was too long. A few good moves could not bring the game upside down, if you are trailing. At the end Goran statistics was not bad, but 18 PTS, 50% for 2 and 16,7% for 3, were not enough.
Generally, Slovenia lost because of rebounds. France had 7 more. But, my impression is, that maybe even more important is transition. It was crucial for success in 1st quarter, but absent in almost all others. I sometimes recognized moments where Goran would usually run to the hoop, or just try to break defense, to search for foul, but none of that happened. Goran had to slow down the pace, I presume not to collapse in 3rd quarter already. The analyst on TV after the game mentioned, that Parker seemed more fresh at the end of the game than Goran Dragic, although Parker played almost 6 minute more! He concluded, that Parker is more mature, experienced, that he can distribute his energy more efficiently. I'm more inclined to believe in different reasons. First, Parker had more help from his team-mates in organizing attack. 2nd and 3rd PG in France team had 23 minutes on the court, Slovenian PG bench squad had only a bit more then 10 minutes. Parker is truly more time in the game, but he is also playing with other PGs. Sometimes De Colo is organizing attack, and Parker can just wait in the corner. Goran was always the only PG on the court. Second, obviously, different style of play, more fast transitions for Goran. And third, Slovenians believed (rightly) that their chance of winning the game is only possible, if they stay close until the ending. If they don't start in full mode at the beginning, they would experience similar fate as Serbians against Spain. It's impossible to stop a good team, if they get in the rhythm. In another words, the coach took a risk, they gambled.
As I said in the beginning, I must be satisfied with decent defeat. And I am.