By Semih Tuna/ Stuna@eurohoops.net
Slovenia and Turkey gave basketball fans a game to remember, however, this may not have happened if Luka Doncic was playing in the closing minutes of the game.
Doncic stayed on the bench after playing for 27 minutes and almost the full first half and third quarter and coach Aleksander Sekulic explained his decision after the game: “We planned his minutes because we don’t want to put too much pressure on some players. We are still at the beginning and Luka has just joined the team. The most important thing right now is to keep players healthy. At the same time, we need to increase the fitness level, which is not at its highest, as we are just starting the preparations.”
After all, even without Doncic, Slovenia got the win thanks to Goran Dragic and the coach was happy about the fact that his team didn’t panic despite the Turkish comeback and having the game sent to overtime: “Whether we had bad sequences, lost the ball under pressure, or missed our open shots, the most important thing was that we didn’t panic. We missed a shot under the basket, I don’t know if it was a block or not. The critical point was to remain calm. At the end of the day, our players took responsibility and it was a game that pushed us forward.”
Plus, Sekulic didn’t expect such a competitive and intense game so early: “To be honest, I didn’t expect it to be such a tough and intense match, it was also about prestige. We know how big of a team Turkey is. They have a great coach and great players. They wanted to get the win in front of their full gym. We showed the character we needed to show when playing with such an opponent, we proved that we can play at the highest level.”
And of course, Sekulic and Slovenia were happy to be part of such a contest: “The atmosphere was incredible. Every coach and every player wants to be part of this atmosphere. Sport is like that. We play for the fans and enjoy it, and the fans enjoy watching us. It’s better that way than playing in front of empty seats without any emotion. We need to play games like this, Turkey should play games like this too.”
Speaking on a strict basketball level, Slovenia used a lot of small ball, using Vlatko Cancar and Edo Muric in the center position. So, is this a pattern?
“I can’t tell you everything… But for today we had to. Still, it is a certain guide for the upcoming matches”, said Sekulic with a smile.