On Saturday Slovenia managed to beat Lithuania in the last friendly match at home. With 11.000 fans cheering for victory, Lithuania was nice enough not to push the last seconds for overtime. The final score was 74:72.
Quotes from coach Zdovc after the match:
(Asked if the critiques he gave his player after the tournament in Lithuania helped):
As a coach I'm almost constantly dissatisfied, I mean in the end we are coaches, players are praised by their girlfriends, wives, friends. Coaches are the critics, who always want more, always want them to be 100%, which is difficult. So it's important to give your max, if you make a mistake you can quickly fix it.
(On Goran Dragić)
Gogi needs time, it's not easy for him. He's under a lot of pressure, everybody is expecting a lot from him, and at the same time he didn't play for 4 months. Right now I'm really pleased with him, he is giving even more than I expected. Still, sometimes he gets carried away. So there are still some things that could be done better. And I'm back to wanting everything be perfect.. He can only continue to rise.
Last warm-up game against USA
The final preparation game USA:SLO will take place tomorrow in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at 8 pm Slovenian time. Slovenia probably won't get the win (unless Gogi goes full Dragon mode, Prepelič is hot from 3 again, Lorbek or Zoki have 15pt and everyone plays defense the way Zdovc will be shouting). But it will be interesting to see how our young team plays against the NBA stars.
On Sunday the team gathered at the airport and Goran Dragic gave some statements before departing for Spain. The interview goes in circles about this upcoming USA:SLO match. Here is the jist:
(On playing against team USA)
You can't fix much in one game. We know they (USA) are the favourites, we just have to watch out for injuries since it's the last warm-up game, but it's still a good match. Maybe the youngsters will show what they can do, and in the future come across the ocean.
(On team USA)
Like you said, it's not the Dream Team, but they're definitely quality players who play on a high level. I heard even Lillard didn't make it and he was one of the best playmakers in the league. It will be hard, they are one of the favourites.
(On team goals)
With this team it (not getting to the quarterfinals) wouldn't be a failure. We have to be realistic, we don't have a team for the top spots. We won't be going there with a white flag, we'll fight as best as we can and we'll see what happens. Like you saw, we didn't play great in the last game, we're still a little lost, but we'll see how it goes in the world cup.
(On sounding kinda pessimistic - still being lost..)
Well, it isn't a secret. You watched the games, just the way it is.
(On whether they can still fix things during this last week)
It's possible but hard to do, if we haven't fixed it in the last 2 months, it will be hard to do so (now).
He also adds; that the old team always had great chemistry, won the friendly matches and then lost when it counted. So perhaps now it will be the other way around. They got off to a bad start, but maybe they’ll come together when they need to. Optimism at its best I think.
I managed to get a photo of Gogi signing stuff and taking pics before the game vs Lithuania. He really has endless patience when it come to signing and taking selfies - hung out with fans for about 30 minutes before getting rushed away to prepare for the game. And he still stopped to take a(3) quick pic(s) with me. While waiting for that, Zoran Dragić was being friendly and silly, poking this guy and then hiding behind me so I'd take the blame. He might just be more loveable than the Dragon. (Trivia: Gogi & Zoki will be roomies in Spain:)