Goran Dragic’s schedule with his national team will go to Sunday’s limit at EuroBasket, after he helped power Slovenia to a 103-97 victory Tuesday over Latvia and Kristaps Porzingis in a quarterfinal game.
Dragic closed with 26 points and eight assists to help offset Porzingis’ 34 points, as Slovenia, which improved to 7-0 in the event, moved into Thursday’s semifinal game against Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio and the Spanish national team.
No matter Thursday’s result, Dragic will then have at least one more game on Sunday, either for the EuroBasket championship or in the event’s third-place game.
Following the game the 31-year-old Miami Heat guard reiterated that this tournament will end his international playing career, regardless of the outcome.
“I want to win a medal and then I’m out,” he said following the victory in Istanbul, Turkey. “I mean, I’m going to be 32 and how FIBA changed the rules, how they’re going to play qualification games between the season and my career is back in the States in the NBA, so I’m not going to be able to play anymore for a couple of years. So I think so, that’s the right moment to put the shoes on the side from the national team.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to miss it, but I think that’s the good thing to do, especially with this young group that we have. It’s a lot of young players. I don’t want to be in their way. They can grow as a team really well, a really good team. And they’re going to be scary in the future. I’m done. This is my 10th year for the national team. So I already experienced everything. Hopefully this is going to continue with a medal.”
The other semifinal will pit Wednesday’s winners of Greece-Russia and Italy-Serbia.
Dragic closed 9 of 15 from the field in his 32 minutes Tuesday, with Slovenia outscoring Latvia by 21 when he was on the court.
Slovenia was paced Tuesday by the 27 points of 18-year-old phenom Luka Doncic, a potential No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NBA draft.
“That’s why he’s the best at his age,” Dragic said, “probably from 18 to 25. He’s only 18 years old and he’s playing with such a calmness. People back home, they’re really happy that we’ve got him.
“I’m his roommate. Don’t get me wrong. He’s still a kid. He watches cartoons, he watches Friends. But when you put him on the floor, he’s unbelievable.”
Dragic now will have only a one-week turnaround before the start of the Heat’s training camp, which opens with media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on Sept. 25, to be followed by the first day of training camp on Sept. 26.
Dragic was coming off an uneven performance in Saturday’s 79-55 victory over Ukraine at the start of elimination play in the Round of 16, closing five points on 2-of-12 shooting. He had scored at least 20 or more points in each of Slovenia’s previous five games.
“This is a huge success for our country, for coaches, for players,” Dragic said of advancing to the semifinals. “We did an amazing job, especially defensively. It was all collective, team effort.”
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