Credit: Pawel Pietranik/NEWSPIX.pl
Credit Pawel Pietranik/NEWSPIX.pl

In spite of it being only a friendly game, the clash between Italy and Slovenia at the Allianz Dome in Trieste was slated to be also a contest full of meaning.

Goran Dragic

Goran  Dragic
Team: Brooklyn Nets
Position: PG, SG
Age: 36
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Birth place: Ljubljana, Slovenia

On the one hand, Gianmarco Pozzecco made his national team debut on the hosts' bench. On the other hand, Luka Doncic's immense talent and Goran Dragic much-heralded return after five years and the 2017 EuroBasket. 

On the court, however, there was essentially one team - Slovenia. The reigning European champions had no problem dominating the game from the second quarter onwards, making a statement against an opponent with many offensive issues. In the end, Slovenia won 90-71 ((27-23, 26-14, 24-11, 13-23).

Luka Doncic was the winner's first scorer with 12 points (4/12 FG), plus 7 rebounds and 5 assists, while Goran Dragic added 11 (3/5 FG, 4/4 FT, 4 AST). Italy played with many new faces and were competitive only for ten minutes. 

Four players (Luca Severini, Leonardo Okeke, Tomas Woldetensae and John Petrucelli) debuted with the Italian NT, while Marco Spissu and Achille Polonara returned to the squad for the first time after the 2021 Olympic Games.

Italy tried to stay close at the end of the first quarter (23-27), but the Balkan side took off in the following minutes to get a 16-point lead (53-37) at halftime. The hosts struggled defensively against a multi-talented team that saw Doncic and Gragic score 9 points apiece. All players except Luka Rupnik were given the opportunity to play in that span. 

Pozzecco's squad shot poorly (3/15) from the perimeter and had no reference point on the offensive end. Italy's woes continued in the third quarter, when Jacob Cebasek took over the execution, going 3/3 from distance and essentially finishing the game. 

Luka Doncic

Luka  Doncic
Luka  Doncic
MIN: 35.66
PTS: 29.03 (53.34%)
REB: 9.24
As: 8.3
ST: 1.28
BL: 0.56
TO: 4.38
GM: 80

Edo Muric added some baskets inside the paint, as the hosts were committing one turnover after another. Slovenia made a partial score of 2-15 in less than four minutes, closing the third part with a huge 29-point lead (77-48). 

Woldetensae scored 13 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in an excellent debut for the winger of Openjobmetis Varese. In fact, he was the one who kept Italy afloat when everything had been decided. Italy succeeded in cutting down the deficit in garbage time, but without being able to pose any threat to a much superior squad. 

Aleksandar Sekulic's boys prepare for the delicate challenges against Croatia (June 30 in Ljubljana) and Sweden (July 3 in Stockholm).

Italy face the Netherlands on 4 July in Almere, the last match of the first qualifying phase for the FIBA ​​World Cup 2023. The Azzurri have already qualified for the second phase due to exclusion of Russia but must win to get two crucial points for the standings.

Italy: Tomas Woldetensae 13 (5/9 FG, 6 REB), Achille Polonara 12 (4/10 FG, 10 REB, 3 AST), Marco Spissu 8 (3/10 FG, 4 REB, 5 TO), Luca Severini 7. 

Slovenia: Luka Doncic 12 (4/12 FG, 2/5 FT, 7 REB, 5 AST, 3 TO), Goran Dragic 11 (3/5 FG, 4/4 FT, 4 AST), Jacob Cebasek, Edo Muric 9 (6 REB), Zoran Dragic 8.

Full game highlights:

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