Slovenia vs. Georgia: Monday August 28th, 6:30 a.m. CST, 13.30 Europe
After a surprisingly tough start to the World Cup against Venezuela, Slovenia play Georgia Monday in their second World Cup game. Slovenia ended up on top against Venezuela Saturday, securing a win 100-85, but having to fight for it a lot more than expected.
The Venezuelans’ shooting luck to start the game and pretty much all through the first half was just out of this world with 9 made threes out of 13 attempts. This kept them in the game, along with aggressive defense, and tested the Slovenians, who, especially in the first half, struggled on defense and on-ball pressure.
Georgia is a more talented team on paper than Venezuela and will probably be their toughest opponent yet. With two NBA players on the roster, big men Goga Bitadze (Orlando Magic) and Sandro Mamukelašvili (San Antonio Spurs), Georgia is strongest, where Slovenia is weakest: in the paint. Worth mentioning, this Georgian team lost to the very talented Australian team by only five points (86-81) just last week.
Luka Dončić put on a show against Venezuela, as he tends to do on the big stage, and his chemistry with the naturalized, American big man Mike Tobey seems to be back. The chemistry between those two will be crucial for this team’s succes.
For Slovenia to win their group and enter the second round undefeated as expected in a weak group, they need to start stronger against Georgia. The defense and on-ball pressure need to be improved, and they need to find a solution to their big man problem.
Slovenia is a team that does well in transition, so running a lot more than against Venezuela may help get easy points. That also means considering playing some of the younger guys, like Gregor Glas (who’s performed very well in the prep games), Gregor Hrovat, and Ziga Samar earlier, to get veterans like Zoran Dragic and Jaka Blazic some rest.
If this team is going to put up a fight against bigger and more talented teams later on and make a deep run, transition play should be (a bigger) part of their strategy than what we saw against Venezuela.
How to watch: Courtside, ESPN+, NBA app
The first group stage for the World Cup started August 25th with Slovenia playing in Group F in Okinawa, Japan, where they face Cape Verde, Georgia and Venezuela.
If Slovenia advances to the Second Round, it will meet the best two teams from Group E, consisting of Germany, Finland, Australia, and one of the host nations, Japan.