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Slovenia beat Latvia to earn semi-finals at EuroBasket

Istanbul, 12 September - The Slovenian men's national basketball team defeated Latvia 103:97 in the quarter-finals of the 2017 EuroBasket in Istanbul on Tuesday to earn a semi-final berth with reigning European champions Spain.

The Slovenian men's national basketball team
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Slovenia entered the match as an undefeated team at the tournament after winning all five matches in the group phase and easily defeating Ukraine in the round of 16.

Slovenia were a better team in the first quarter, using a good shooting from the three point line to earn a comfortable advantage, which peaked at 30:15 on a three pointer by Goran Dragić. Slovenia managed to keep a 10-point lead by the end of the first quarter.

But it was a series started by their NBA star Kristaps Porzingis that turned the things around for Latvia in the second quarter, which took a lead late in the second quarter, finishing the first half by leading 55:51.

Slovenia used a 11:0 run at the beginning of the third quarter to regain the lead, which increased to 10 points by the end of the period on a three pointer by Luka Dončić and a dunk by Gašper Vidmar (76:66).

Latvia gave their best in the last period to make things interesting until the very end but baskets by Dončić and Dragić and steady shooting from the free throw line secured Slovenia their second semi-finals at EuroBasket ever.

Head coach Igor Kokoškov kept his cool after the win, telling reporters that "we are not going to celebrate yet, we are going forward", but adding that the team was already aware what they had accomplished.

Captain Dragić said that "we were ready, we fought until the end, when they led at the half time by five points we did not give up and we deservedly won the game".

In the semi-finals on Thursday, Slovenia will play against reigning European champions Spain.

Commenting on the next opponent, Dragić said that "if you want a medal, you have to beat the best", adding that "we know who they are but we also know what we are capable of".

© STA, 2017