Slovenia tops Serbia for first EuroBasket title
Despite injuries to two of their starting players, Slovenia were able to hold off Serbia to cap off an unbeaten EuroBasket tournament. Slovenia captain Goran Dragic scored 35 points and won the tournament MVP award.
Dragic was to sit out the three and a half minutes of the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket final in Istanbul's Sinan Erdem Dome after experiencing cramps.
"He was cramping on the sidelines," Slovenia coach Igor Kokoskov told fiba.basketball, the official website for basketball's governing body, after the game. "Goran's body was quitting on him."
Kokoskov was already without Luka Doncic, Slovenia's star teenager who had to leave the game injured midway through third quarter. Slovenia prevailed nonetheless, going on a 12-0 run at the end of the game to beat Yugoslav neighbor Serbia 93-85.
The win makes Slovenia the smallest country to win a EuroBasket tournament, since Latvia in 1935. They won all nine of their games in the tournament and were the ones who knocked out defending champions Spain in the semifinals.
"We were chasing a medal for 25 years and now we have gold. It's incredible," said Klemen Prepelic, who scored 21 points in the game.
Goran Dragic (middle) scores two of his 35 points to help Slovenia win their first Eurobasket title
Dragic, who plays for the Miami Heat in America's National Basketball Association (NBA), won the tournament's Most Valuable Player award. He scored 35 points in the final, six shy of the all-time record of 41, set by Serbia's Aleksandar Djordjevic in 1995.
"You want to play well in the final. My teammates, all the coaches, they put me in the right positions. It's a team sport and I'm really proud of my teammates. It's an unbelievable feeling," Dragic told fiba.basketball after the game.