Bring your game

Or why some think that Slovenians can’t have nice things: we break everything. But things change, sometimes with a bang such as we are witnessing now.

I’m writing this on the day of the finals: tonight undefeated team Slovenia and (once defeated) team Serbia will play in Istanbul for the crown of European male basketball. This is not something that happens often. But even more than the result – what amazes, astonishes and delights is the way they are doing it.

Players born and raised in Slovenia (to mixed parents in some cases), joined by one naturalised American and the coach of Serbian origin, have been showing no fear, no doubt and no mercy. As if to say: take it easy, we’ve got this. To me this was clear from the first game against Poland which they won, even though (upon repeat viewing) they didn’t play very well at all.

I don’t think Slovenians (and the world, come to think of it) appreciate anything more right now than having someone tell us this: relax, enjoy it, it will be okay. And more than okay, see for yourselves.

Such is the confidence that in this video they are already singing: “Slovenia is the champion of Europe.”

Such is the confidence that when Serbians secured their spot in the finals against Slovenia after winning over Russians on Friday, there was a tweet: “Serbia just won silver medal“.

Such is the confidence that the entire country threw caution to the wind and is spending their hard-earned money either by flying to Istanbul for the finals – only today 10 planes flew to Istanbul from Ljubljana – or by renting vans and busses and driving up to 20 hours to see this miracle in person. There was even a long line for passports after people realised they needed one.

And then the journalist who is covering this championship for Večer, a major Slovenian daily for which my father worked for many years, writes an article that almost made me throw up yesterday. I thought of letting it go, which I do to everything else I read online and doesn’t agree with me, but this one didn’t wish to stay down.

You don’t do this.

You don’t protest over other journalists congratulating you! No matter how you are a journalist, not a fan, and know deep down that everything sucks in Slovenian basketball and this country of ours in general. This is not the time nor the place.

You don’t rage against the “euphoria” taking the nation by the storm! No matter how long someone needed to join the party. Finally something good is uniting the nation. People are hungry for it. We are sick of divisions, disappointments, disasters.

You don’t go all Slovenian on the day before the finals and find things to bitch about while all the nation is rejoicing, coming over, proud for once, with a good reason. Not this time. 

Oh, and also, you don’t count “naturalised” players in teams. This is so ugly and daft. Yes, we have one – Anthony Randolph from Real Madrid – and other three top countries (Spain, Russia, Serbia) do not. It is allowed and in the rules.

But not just him, or Goran Dragić who plays for Miami Heat and 18-year-old Luka Dončić who plays for Real Madrid, everybody else is highly efficient and doing their very best, if not more than that. And this is due to the head coach, Serbian Igor Kokoskov, who is assistant coach for NBA’s Utah Jazz, and all of his assistants.

They can tell you something about what you do, instead, if you want to win, which in the wilderness is just another word for survive:

You bring your game, not your name.

You take the best from your own tribe and consolidate it with neighbours’ genes. You study the opponents and know your own strengths. You deploy each and every one of your team just in time. You keep egos in check with your calmness. You play a quarter at the time, at your best, with your 7-second attack strategy which reminds me of a 5-second dog rule.

Image result for second rule dog

And the Slovenian people respond, you bet we do, after years of frustration when Slovenian basketball team kept dropping out of championships at early stages despite talent and quality. Self-sabotage is strong with this one. That’s why we need help from the outside. Ask Tina Maze, former Slovenian Alpine ski champion, and her Italian trainer and partner.

After the semifinals, which Slovenia won against Spain by twenty points, sister told me that Slovenian coach reminded her of my amore. What can I say? There’s that… 😉

So. Even if something should happen tonight to prevent Slovenian victory – injury, referees, doping, or just a terrible case of bad luck (even Ferrari dropped out today at the start in Singapore on both counts) – we must be grateful for seeing that it is possible and how it is possible. And in the world where less and less is still functioning, this is plenty. And this is what I thank you for, guys.

Today’s photos are from Maribor, the second biggest Slovenian town where my father was born, where “Večer” newspaper is published, and where they have the soccer team that plays in Champions League this year. They just played 1:1 against FC Spartak Moscow in their first game. Sevilla next, Liverpool soon.

Photo: © signature mmm

17 Comments Add yours

  1. What a fine tribute to the team and sports in general in Slovenia. Good luck with the the final! I will be checking the scores and cheering for Slovenia, knowing what a journey the team and the country did to make it there. It’s quite accomplishment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah! I’m glad you’ve read this and will be cheering, Sunny Days! Thanks from all of us! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Go Slovenia! And congratulations whatever the result!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. gotta love the typewriter on the wall

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, I thought so too. 🙂 It’s high!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. mexploring says:

    I am so proud that little Slovenia made it to finals, passing the big ones, like Spain and France. Viva Slovenia! My man is watching the game now. And I love your street captures! tell so much of the people’s spirit. It feels so close and Slavic 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh, Mex, good for you and him and us. 😉 Always good to have Slavic support. 😀 Of course, our opponents Serbians are Slavs too but it didn’t help them. 😉 Slovenia is the winner!!! Good to see you around again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. mexploring says:

        Isn’t it amazing that the finale was occupied by two small countries? I loved that fact. My man was switching between basket and football, so I didn’t get the results. Wow, congratulations! you deserve that! btw, was there a tension because it was Serbs? are you guys getting well along besides basketball?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, Serbia is not so little, twice the size of Denmark, for example. While Slovenia is half the size of Denmark. Serbia was 2nd at the World Championships, right after the USA, several times. They are good! Slovenia was always unlucky in the past and never won a medal before. And now gold! YEAHHH! In our team, several players have one Serbian parent and the head coach is Serbian too. But I don’t think there was any tension for that reason, they are pros. It was just the tension of the finals. And they were VERY tired. As for getting along… Between Slovenia and Serbia there is Croatia and neither gets along with them very much. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      3. mexploring says:

        Wow, thank you for little info, I see that I have no idea about the geography in that part of the world. The only place I know is Croatia, and so sad that the people don’t get along there. I love Croats, and I remember a Serbian guy who was not so happy about Croats and working in Croatia. This is sad when neighbors hold so much against each other, but they have their reasons.
        I never could imagine that Serbians can be so tall. But I have heard that in Norway the doctors don’t allow kids to grow extremely tall and give them hormones when they see the sign of growing long. They mean it will create difficulties for a person, to be extremely tall/and short. Norwegians care a lot about equality, sometimes even too much.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Wow to that last info! 😮 😮 😮 I have never thought of this. Well, they will certainly never have a top basketball team then. Unless moms hide their tall kids from the doctors. (TERRIBLE!!) Don’t worry about not knowing geography, I could say exactly the same about places up there. I don’t like to treat people regarding to where they come from and don’t believe in generalising. There are assholes everywhere, and good people too.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. mexploring says:

        I guess, not, haha. I think, it is not in the nazi order, so parents don’t have to hide their kids if they wish for them future in basket 🙂 But if you think, if you are extremely tall, over 2m, and no career in basket, it is more of hindrance than an advantage for you (places on planes, custom made beds, doors and everything furniture, finding a mate). so in that concern I don’t think it is a terrible practice.
        I can totally relate to that one. I never could figure out Scandinavian capitals before moving up here 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Well, I still might write a story of an undercover Norwegian basketball team one day. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      7. mexploring says:

        Do it! Just don’t use me as an undercover source, I am just singing the songs I hear from others, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations!!!!!!!! Slovenia is officially the European Basketball Champion! What a game!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeahh!!! It was much more tense than during previous games because our guys were really tired and one – Dončić – injured his ankle and couldn’t continue :(. Still, a HUGE victory. We are really happy. Thanks for your support!

      Liked by 1 person

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