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Performance of Basketball Team Received with Mixed Feelings

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STA, Slovenska Tiskovna Agencija

Ljubljana, 28 August (STA) - Slovenia's first-ever world basketball championships campaign, which ended in last Saturday's round-of-16 game, raised considerable controversy in Slovenia with the home media meeting
the team's performance and attitude with harsh criticism. The future nevertheless looks bright.

While the majority of the players and head-coach Ales Pipan assessed the team's top 16 finish as a success, wins over "basketball dwarfs" Senegal and Puerto Rico and defeats against Italy, the US, China and Turkey left
many Slovenian basketball fans unimpressed.

Journalists, on the other hand, were mostly hurt by the team's media boycott declared ahead of the decisive game with Turkey. While the team justified the media blackout with alleged untrue statements made by
unnamed reporters, the journalists in turn reproached them for being the only team in Japan limiting media access.

"Our European and World Championships performances are being praised throughout the basketball world - by colleagues from other teams as well as foreign journalists," coach Pipan wrapped up the campaign while also acknowledging the media boycott was a mistake.

"Our players have a lot more to say on the court and we should set our goals even higher in the future. The whole world plays basketball and they are all good, they all have plans - but only one can make it to the next
round... We were close, two more minutes and the top 8 would be ours.

Well, a place among the world's 16 best teams is also a major success," Pipan added.

Pipan, who is under contract until the end of the next European Championships, was the only coach at the tournament not observing the compulsory after-game meeting with the press.

Offering his huge disappointment as an excuse, he still must have been aware that teams losing far more important games patiently stand up the press irrespective of their disappointment.

The developments in Japan also took a toll on the players, many of whom have announced they would give their future participation on the team some deep thought.

Team captain Radoslav Nesterovic already voiced his reservations during the tournament, Bostjan Nachbar, another Slovenian NBA player, said that at least a temporary break from the team was definite, Marko Milic has been on the team since 1993 and there are many others who might no longer consider the national team as a priority.

While it is a shame that the team with its many stars will probably not come together in its current line-up again, time also seems to be ripe for certain changes, also in the form of new, young players. In the end there
is no reason for deep concern - in June, the under 20 team took bronze at the European Championships.