ISTANBUL – This should have been one of the better matchups in the round of 16, but it was a totally one-sided affair. Slovenia cruised to a 87-58 victory to reach the quarterfinals.
Australia had the sixth best defense in pool play, but they were just average offensively. And on Sunday, they were just awful. They failed to score on their first 10 possessions of the game and had just 21 points on 34 possessions in the first half.
Slovenia really opened up the game with a barrage of threes early in the second quarter. They were 6-for-10 from downtown in the period and had a 42-21 lead at halftime without Bostjan Nachbar scoring a single point.
Australia’s offense finally showed up in the third quarter (24 points on 19 possessions), but they just couldn’t get any stops. Slovenia hit five more threes in the third to put the game away.
Before pool play began, Nachbar told me that his team’s goal for this tournament was to make the top eight. Well, they’ve done that, and they won’t necessarily stop there. Slovenia is 5-1 at the World Championship with an impressive win over Brazil, and with their only loss coming at the hands of the U.S.
After Sunday’s game, Nachbar said that the goals and expectations haven’t changed, no matter how well his team has played. And the win over Australia gave the Slovenians somewhat of a championship feeling.
“We’re going to play more relaxed now,” he said. “We’ve achieved our goal. You have to realize this is our biggest success in our basketball history. To make the top eight in the world is amazing.”
Some more notes…
- For the game, Slovenia was 16-for-33 from 3-point range. They shot just 33 percent (15th among the 24 teams) from downtown in pool play.
- Slovenia’s Uros Slokar aggravated a sprained left ankle that he suffered in pool play. He limped off floor with 5:22 left in the third quarter and did not return.
- Patty Mills had his usual burst of speed for Australia and got to the rim pretty easily on a couple of occasions, but he shot just 1-for-7 from 3-point range, finishing with 13 points and three assists.
- Raptor center David Andersen shot poorly (2-for-7) as well.
Slovenia will play the winner of the France-Turkey game.