Dragic Brothers Too Much for Italy

If the Italian national team looks ill, it’s likely from the double-dose of Dragic they suffered on Thursday.

Suns’ guard Goran Dragic and his brother Zoran were a nearly unstoppable duo as Slovenia won 84-77 in Round 2 of EuroBasket 2013. The brothers combined for 37 points while helping hold off undefeated Italy in front of a capacity crowd of green-clad Slovenians.

The two left-handed guards punctuated the joint effort in the final minutes to help the host nation pull away. Zoran (15 points, 11 rebounds) zipped through two Italians to snag his brother’s missed attempt and hit a floater in one motion to give Slovenia a four-point lead with 1:04 remaining. After an Italy miss, Goran ( 22 points, six assists) drove on offense, jump-stopped and converted and up-and-under layup off the glass to push the lead to six.

Zoran helped preserve the advantage, drawing a charge on the ensuing defensive possession. Goran then sealed the game on the following play, driving and dishing to Bostjan Nachbar before getting the ball back and nailing a three-pointer from the corner.

Slovenia (4-2, t-1st in Group F) will play Greece on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. PST.

The Suns’ point guard was at his slashing best from the opening tip, spearheading the home country’s severe advantage in the paint. When the defense started collapsing, Dragic hit teammate Mirza Begic with consecutive bounce passes in traffic, both of which resulted in dunks.

Meanwhile the 6-5 Zoran Dragic repeatedly used his speed to chase down rebounds before his taller counterparts could secure them. His game-high 11 boards were part of Slovenia’s overwhelming advantage on the glass, where they held a 45-28 edge by game’s end.

Zoran, who was on the Houston Rockets’ summer league team a year ago, saved multiple offensive possessions with his quickness and nose for the ball. One sequence saw him snag a loose ball and, with the shot clock winding down, sink a one-handed fling from several feet behind the 3-point line. He was on the receiving end of a Dragic assist later, hitting a fastbreak layup after the brothers’ speed put them ahead of the rest of the field.

Slovenia is looking to earn its first-ever medal in EuroBasket after finishing seventh, fourth and seventh in the previous three tournaments, respectively.

RELATED STORIES

Suns big men stand out in latest round of EuroBasket games

Dragic brilliant in Slovenia's overtime loss to Croatia

Dragic the face of EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia