It may not have been a final that many people predicted in the build-up to the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket tournament but even with that in mind, there was a shock win. Slovenia have been crowned the Champions of Europe for the first time in their history and they were very much deserved winners on Sunday night. The Slovenian players celebrated in front of more than 12,000 fans in the Sinan Erdem Arena, and they have written their names in the history books of European basketball now.
Slovenia 93 – Serbia 85
The Slovenians were ahead by 9 points at the break and even though Serbia rallied in the second half, the losing side only reduced the deficit by one point. The first half showing by Slovenia was extremely impressive with Goran Dragic being a hugely influential player. Dragic grabbed a total of 26 points in the first half of the game and he would eventually take the MVP of the tournament for his showings in recent weeks.
The second half got nervous for Slovenia when Luka Doncic had to leave the court with an injury to his ankle. Not everyone would have been aware of what the youngster can do but the 18 year old player has made sure that European basketball fans are well aware of what he can deliver. There was also a late injury to Dragic but Slovenia showed that they have strength in depth, hanging on with a bit to spare. Klemen Prepelic stood up to steady the ship and in the end, Serbia were desperate but couldn’t make any real impact on the game.
Goran Dragic was a key player in 2017 EuroBasket final
In the end Dragic grabbed 35 points in the final, with all of these points coming in the opening three quarters of the final. It was to be Dragic’s last game for his international side, but what a way to bow out. With an average of 22.6 points and 5.1 assists, this was a tournament that saw a player bow out in the best possible manner, and Slovenia grabbed their first every tournament medal. The fact that it was gold will have surprised many people but when you add in the fact that they went through the tournament without a defeat, this was a truly remarkable triumph for Slovenia. In going through the 2017 EuroBasket tournament without a loss, they became the first side to achieve this feat since Lithuania achieved it back in 2003.
Serbia will no doubt consider this to be an opportunity missed but they were without some key players. However, Bodgan Bogdanovic was once again a huge player for Serbia, offering 22 points in the loss.
It was all about Slovenia though and the 2017 EuroBasket side will forever be remembered in their home country and across Europe.