Suns in FIBA: Running World Cup Blog

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by Matt Petersen

Goran Dragic (Slovenia) and Suns draft pick Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia) have taken their games to an international stage: the FIBA World Cup. Formerly known as the World Championships, the World Cup places the top 32 teams in the world in one tournament. is keeping on eye on the purple-and-orange representatives, both of whom play significant roles for their respective teams. Read one below for the latest updates.

Sunday, September 13

When Bogdan Bogdanovic brings his game to the United States, chances are many of his peers will recognize him.

The 22-year-old's run with Serbia in the FIBA World Cup ended with a silver medal, one many outsiders predicted would go to Spain or -- after the Spaniards lost in the quarterfinals -- to France.

Instead the Suns' 2014 draft pick flourished as a sixth man for the Serbian national team, which went 6-2 before falling to Team USA in the gold medal game. He scored 15 points in off the bench.

Bogdanovic finished third on the team in scoring and minutes played. His tournament averages ended up at 12.0 points, 2.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from three-point range. The 6-6 prospect is slated to begin play with Fenerbahce Ulker, the defending Turkish League champions and a top 16 finisher in Euroleague for four consecutive seasons.

Friday, September 12

When favored France threatened to make one of the more impressive fourth-quarter comebacks in FIBA history, Serbia turned to one of its youngest stars.

Bogdanovic, who had scored just three points on his lone shot attempt (a three-pointer) through three quarters, poured in 10 in the final period. His surge could not have been more well-timed, as France had cut a double-digit deficit to four. When that happened, Bogdanovic nailed a three-pointer to keep Serbia's opponent at bay.

The Suns' draft pick finished with 13 points on just five shots, including 2-of-3 from three-point range. He added four assists while running the offense for much of his 26 minutes of playing time.

Bogdanovic and Serbia will conclude their FIBA World Cup run on Sunday when they face Team USA in the gold medal game.


Wednesday, September 10

Against Brazil in Wednedsay's quarterfinal match, Serbia made it a point to smooth over its first-round bumps. Bogdanovic followed suit, turning in his latest efficient performance after a rough tournament start, shooting-wise.

The Suns' 2014 first-round pick scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with six rebounds, two assists and two blocks. The latter stat occurred thanks to his 6-11 wingspan, which belies his 6-6 height as a perimeter player.

Bogdanovic highlights included a teasing dribble, followed by a pull-up three-pointer that hit nothing but net. He was equally proficient inside the arc, where he was part of a dissecting Serbia offense that netted 42 paint points -- exactly half of its overall scoring. It will be difficult to duplicate that inside production against Spain in the semis, but Serbia's ball movement is probably the best the Spaniards will have seen to this point.

As for Bogdanovic, his shooting clip for the tournament is now at a sparkling 49.2 percent, including 39.4 percent from three.


Tuesday, September 9

Goran Dragic's run in the FIBA World Cup ended on Tuesday at the hands of the nation in which he normally plays.

The United States needed a second-half surge to shrug off Slovenia, who's run to the quartefinals exceeded that of perennial powers Argentina, Greece and Croatia. Dragic scored 13 points in the loss, finishing with tournament averages of 16.0 points (55.4 FG%), 4.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 steals per contest.

The Suns star guard ranked fourth in in the tournament in two-point field goal percentage (67.3%), seventh in overall shooting, ninth in assists and 11th in scoring.

Sunday, September 7

Serbia knew they needed a special performance to upset undefeated Greece in the FIBA World Cup round of 16.

They got it from Bogdanovic.

In the previous two games of group play, the Suns' 2014 draft pick had blended in with his teammates on his way to a pair of eight-point performances. His shooting stroke (5-for-15 in those two games combined) had fallen off.

On Sunday, he shook off the mini-slump with a flurry of shots from the outside. The 22-year-old guard torched Greece for 21 point on 7-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.

The performance helped Serbia advance to the quarterfinals, where they will play former Suns guard Leandro Barbosa and the Brazilian national team. Meanwhile Bogdanovic's numbers for the tournament now stand at 11.3 ppg, 2.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 48.1 FG%, 39.3 3FG%.


Saturday, September 6

After a first half full of turnovers and foul trouble, Slovenia pulled ahead of and held off the Dominican Republic in their first elimination game of the tournament.

Dragic turned on the jets in the second half, in which he scored 10 of his 12 points. The Suns guard added six assists, two rebounds and a steal to his totals.

Slovenia ripped off a 19-0 run that spanned from the second quarter to the third, riding a wave of resurgent three-point shooting after a 1-of-11 start from beyond the arc. The Dominican Republic stormed back in the fourth, cutting the lead to four before the Dragic brothers joined forces in the final stretch. Zoran's defense deflated the opponent's momentum, and the other Dragic brother finished with 18 points, four steals and one block.

Slovenia will face Team USA in the quarterfinals, which take place on Tuesday, Sept. 9.


Thursday, September 4

In the final game of group play Goran Dragic and his Slovenian teammates ran into a defensive juggernaut in Lithuania. Dragic had 12 points, 4 assists and 2 steals in the game but had Slovenia's only two points in the final quarter. Lithuania took the game 67-64 and first place in Group D. Dragic and his teammates will face the Dominican Republic on Saturday in the elimination round of 16.

Wednesday, September 3

Even in just 17 minutes of play, Goran Dragic is still lethal.

Angola found that out the hard way on Wednesday as the Suns guard needed just eight shots for 14 points. His 62.5-percent shooting performance actually dropped his tournament shooting clip, which had been above 70 percent after Tuesday.

Rest can only be a good thing as Slovenia is in the midst of a three-games-in-three nights stretch that concludes tomorrow against Lithuania. Slovenia ensured they'll play after that thanks to Wednesday's 93-87 squeaker over Angola. The victory makes them the only undefeated team in Group D at 4-0. It also clinched them a spot in the FIBA World Cup version of the Sweet 16. Starting from there, it's a one-and-done affair all the way through the medal rounds.

Dragic's role will only increase the farther Slovenia advances. As it is, he's averaging 18.8 points, 4.0 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.0 steals per contest while shooting 69 percent from the field (58.8 percent from three).


Tuesday, September 2

Incredible as it may seem, Dragic's shot is falling with even more frequency than it did last season with the Suns

Through three games in the FIBA World Cup, the Suns guard is averaging 20.3 points on a ridiculous 70.6 percent shooting clip, including 54.5 percent from three.

Slovenia needed every bit of that production after Korea came out thinking upset in the first half. Slovenia found itself constantly frustrated by their opponents' ball movement, which resulted in far more half-court sets than Dragic and his teammates prefer.

Slovenia finally broke loose in the third quarter, when they turned a two-point lead into a 17-point advantage in roughly six minutes of play. Zoran Dragic (13), Jure Balazic (11), Alen Omic (13) and Domen Lorbek (14) also scored in double-figures as their team cemented itself as the only undefeated club in Group D play (3-0).

Slovenia faces Angola (1-2) tomorrow before wrapping up group play against Lithuania (2-1) on Thursday).


Monday, September 1

As the FIBA World Cup warms up, so does Bogdanovic.

After scoring three and 12 points in his first two games, respectively, the Suns' first-round pick took a step further with a personal tournament high of 16 points on a much more efficient 7-of-11 shooting performance on Monday. The effort helped Serbia put away former Suns player Hamed Haddadi and Iran, 83-70.

Bogdanovic made sure to stay involved in nearly every aspect of the game, of which he played all by five minutes. The 22-year-old swingman added two steals, two assists, two rebounds and a block as his home country remained tied with France and Brazil for second place in Group A.

Serbia will enjoy its lone off-day on Tuesday before finishing group play against Brazil (Wednesday) and undefeated Spain (Thursday).

Sunday, August 31

After getting a little assistance from everyone in Saturday's FIBA World Cup opener, Dragic got a ton of help from his brother Zoran on Sunday.

The Dragic duo combined for 40 points on a scorching 14-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-6 from three-point range. They also pestered Mexico into committing 19 turnovers, which produced 15 fast break points for Slovenia.

The Suns' Dragic successfully handled trapping double-teams both with his passing game (six assists in 26 minutes) and with his command of the ball. At one point, when it looked as though he was corralled on the left sideline above the free-point line, Dragic dribbled one way, spun and ditched his two defenders for an easy drive to the basket for a foul.

Slovenia, which outscored Mexico in every quarter, is now 2-0 in Group D play. The other two undefeated Group D teams (Angola and Lithuania are both 1-0) play later on Sunday. The top four teams in group play advance to the elimination rounds.


Bogdan Bogdanovic, taken 27th overall by Phoenix in this summer's draft, can shoot the ball.

That much was clear in Serbia's second-game loss to France, a 74-73 heartbreaker that dropped them to 1-1 after Saturday's opening win over Egypt.

In 24 minutes Bogdanovic scored 12 points, half of which came on three-pointers. France's long-limbed defense, led by Portland forward Nicolas Batum, resulted in a 5-for-13 outing from the young Suns prospect.

For curious Suns fans, here's a peak at Bogdanovic's long-range skills in pre-game warm-ups.

Saturday, August 30

Facing one of the few teams primed to give them issues in group play, Slovenia rode a familiar face to victory anyway.

 Dragic was at his slashing and efficient best in the FIBA World Cup opener against Australia. The Suns guard set the tone early, putting up 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in the first half.

He received a wealth of help after halftime as six different teammates scored seven points or more in the FIBA-shortened 40-minute game. Dragic finished with team highs of 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists, all while shooting a blistering 8-of-13 from the field. Slovenia used the team-wide effort to pull away for the 90-80 win.

Dragic will be back in action tomorrow when Slovenia continues Group D play against Mexico at 8:30 a.m., Phoenix time. All games can be watched online via ESPN3.