No bus, no fuss: Slovenia open EuroBasket defense with win

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Slovenia’s Luka Doncic, left, celebrates his team’s victory during the Eurobasket Group B basketball match between Slovenia and Lithuania, in Cologne, Germany, Thursday, September 1, 2022. (Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)

PA

The bus that was hired to take Slovenia to their EuroBasket tournament opener never arrived at the team hotel on Thursday.

The reigning European champions then did not panic. And they didn’t panic either when they got into trouble late in the game.

Mike Tobey scored six of his 24 points in a late run that kept Slovenia ahead, and the defending EuroBasket winners opened their title defense by beating Lithuania 92-85 in a game of Group B on Thursday.

Goran Dragic had 19 points for Slovenia and Luka Doncic finished with 14 points and 10 assists.

“We were a bit nervous because before the game you want to focus on the game,” Dragic said of the bus ban issue, which the team solved by hiring a few taxis for a very tight ride. towards the arena.

Thursday marked the first day of the tournament. There are 24 teams on the field, divided into four groups of six. The top four teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage in Berlin, starting September 10 and advance to the title match on September 18.

Lithuania led 78-73 halfway through the fourth quarter, before Slovenia – who won the last EuroBasket tournament in 2017, arguably the small nation’s greatest sporting moment – went on a 15-3 run.

Tobey scored three straight baskets for Slovenia, two of which were assisted by Doncic, and Dragic’s 3-pointer with 2:37 to go put Slovenia up 85-81.

“We knew it would be a tough game,” Dragic said. “Especially because we feel like we are playing in Lithuania. They have a lot of fans who came and cheered them on. … We focused only on EuroBasket and tried to start the tournament with a win We brought a lot of courage and a lot of effort.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas led Lithuania with 19 points. Marius Grigonis had 18, Lukas Lekavicius scored 14 and Domantas Sabonis added 10. Jonas Valanciunas finished with nine points and a record 12 rebounds.

GROUP B

NOWITZKI RETIRED JERSEY

Dirk Nowitzki’s No.14 shirt was retired by Germany in a ceremony ahead of the Germany-France game in Cologne.

Nowitzki is the first German player to receive this honour. Among the many friends who flew in for the event were Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and coach Jason Kidd.

Doncic – who took over from Nowitzki as Dallas’ superstar player – also watched the ceremony, which took place shortly after the Slovenia-Lithuania match ended.

GERMANY 76, FRANCE 63

Perhaps fueled by that ceremony from Nowitzki, the host Germans closed the third quarter on a 19-4 run to take control and knock out one of the pre-tournament favourites.

Johannes Thiemann scored 14 for Germany, who got 13 each from Maodo Lo and Niels Giffey, plus 11 from Dennis Schroder.

Guerschon Yabusele scored 18 for France. Rudy Gobert finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds, but Evan Fournier was limited to just seven points on 2-for-10 shooting.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 95, HUNGARY 85

Jusuf Nurkic and Dzanan Musa each scored 19 points, and Bosnia and Herzegovina used a 10-0 run in the dying minutes to pull away from Hungary.

John Roberson scored 18 points for the winners. Szilard Benke led all scorers with 20 points for Hungary.

GROUP A

SPAIN 114, BULGARIA 87

In Tbilisi, Georgia, Lorenzo Brown scored 17 points in 17 minutes, Willy Hernangomez added 16 and Spain – winners of bronze at the last EuroBasket in 2017 – played in their opener.

Rudy Fernandez finished with 14 points for Spain, who placed seven players in double figures.

Aleksandar Vezenkov had game highs of 26 points and 11 rebounds for Bulgaria.

TURKEY 72, MONTENEGRO 68

Shane Larkin had 18 points, Cedi Osman had 15 and Turkey beat Montenegro 7-0 in the final 62 seconds to claim victory.

Alperen Sengun scored 12 points for Turkey and Furkan Korkmaz scored five of his nine points in this last-minute flurry.

Bojan Dubljevic scored 18 for Montenegro, who got 13 from Marko Simonovic. Montenegro entered the EuroBasket squad as a replacement for Russia, who qualified for the tournament but were banned by FIBA ​​in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

BELGIUM 79, GEORGIA 76, OT

Jonathan Tabu’s 3-pointer with 3 seconds remaining made the difference, as Belgium held off hosts Georgia.

Tabu and Jean-Marc Mwema each had 14 points for Belgium, while Ismael Bako scored 11 and Manu Lecomte added 10.

Alexander Mamukelashvili led Georgia with 18 points and 13 rebounds. He hit a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left in overtime to tie the game.

Thaddus McFadden scored 17 and Goga Bitadze added 14 for Georgia.

FRIDAY SCHEDULE

Group C and Group D play begins. In Group C, in Milan, Ukraine take on Great Britain, Croatia take on Greece and Italy take on Estonia.

In Group D, in Prague, Israel takes on Finland, Poland takes on the Czech Republic and reigning EuroBasket silver medalists Serbia take on the Netherlands.

The four groups – ie the 24 teams – will be in action on Saturday.

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More AP Sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

This story was originally published September 1, 2022 3:37 p.m.

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