Gortat, Dragic continue to show well in Eurobasket “friendlies”

As Eurobasket 2013 approaches, the Suns continue to represent well in the exhibitions leading up to the event itself.

Marcin Gortat was the headliner over the weekend, putting up 20 points as Poland downed Belgium on Day 2 of the European Basketball Tour. Gortat’s outing is a great sign after returning state-side to have his foot examined. All signs, medically and now production-wise, point to good health, which can only be a good thing with Phoenix hoping Gortat can become the Polish Mentor for No. 5 overall pick Alex Len.

One of Gortat’s teammates may intrigue Suns fans. Maciej Lampe, who played for Phoenix in the 2004-05 season, scored 11 points on Sunday to finish second in scoring behind Gortat. Lampe currently plays for Spanish league powerhouse FC Barcelona when he’s not donning a Poland national jersey.

Meanwhile, Goran Dragic continues to provide leadership and consistency in close games for the Slovenian national team. A week after hitting the game-winning shot over Turkey, Dragic notched 11 points to help push Slovenia past Russia, 84-80. Former NBA talent Bostjan Nachbar led Slovenia with 18 points. Nachbar is teammates with Lampe on FC Barcelona.

Dragic’s Twitter feed is a good way to get the behind-the-scenes glimpses of his time overseas. Immensely proud of his involvement with the national team, Dragic frequently posts pictures and comments while traveling/practicing/playing.

Dragic buzzer-beater lifts Slovenia over Turkey in Eurobasket exhibition

Suns point guard Goran Dragic is getting an extra dose of competition, conditioning and, perhaps most importantly, leadership as he and the Slovenian national team prepare for Eurobasket 2013.

For those who aren’t familiar with Eurobasket, think of it this way: it’s soccer fan fever transferred to the hardcourt, where it’s nation vs. nation rather than club vs. club. The two-week tournament will be well worth following come mid-September, when the real games start.

For now, most of the Eurobasket teams are participating in “friendlies”, exhibitions that serve as tune-ups heading into the real deal. As a standout NBA player, Dragic is already being billed as one of the marquee players of the field.

The Suns’ leading scorer lived up to that billing over the weekend, hitting a game-winning shot in a sequence that has become familiar to Suns fans: a twisting, contorting layup that leaves the defense leaning one way while leaving Dragic with a sufficient opening for a contorting layup, which he sank with 2.5 seconds left over Turkey.

Don’t forget, Turkey, not Spain, was the world’s heaviest punch against Team USA back in the 2010 World Championships. Dragic’s crunch-time chops showed up against a quality opponent, an experience that should only help Phoenix in the upcoming season.

Wake me up when August ends (and what we’ll look for when it does)

A dead time in the NBA world, August leaves us waiting on the stories we want to see unfold.

Our good friends at Dictionary.com describe “august” as “inspiring reverence or admiration; venerable; eminent.”

That being said, there’s nothing august about August when it comes to basketball.

August, especially the beginning of the month, is boring. It’s the yearly equivalent to a South American siesta. Nobody’s home.

Rookies Alex Len and Archie Goodwin are wrapping up NBA orientation week. Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat have national team obligations. Other guys are working out and/or playing away from 201 E. Jefferson during the dead window between NBA Summer League and team workouts.

In short, it’s a huge hoops voide that feels longer due to 1) the eagerly anticipated offseason changes that took place off the court and 2) the results of those changes that can only be measured on it.

The moratorium will end. Players, starting with Len and Goodwin, will start trickling into US Airways Center for informal workouts. We’ll start getting an idea behind the intrigue of everyone new to Planet Orange.

Among the many pending storylines, here’s a few this committee of one is sick of waiting to see:

1) Position competition. Jeff Hornacek has repeatedly stated that training camp and rotation decisions will be an anyone-goes affair. Young guys drool over that kind of opportunity, and the Suns are mostly a young team. How intense will practices get? Will Hornacek actually have to calm things down at one point? And will he be able to keep from smiling while he’s doing it? Either way, it’s hard not to look forward to each starter truly earning his spot before all is said and done.

2) Bledsoe unleashed. “Potential” and Bledsoe have been mentioned in the same breath for young guard’s entire career. With more opportunities than ever now available, how exactly will that talent unfold? High scoring? Better playmaking than anyone knew about? Unprecedented defensive numbers from the guard position? Nobody knows (yet), but finding out can’t come soon enough.

3) Rookie impact. Alex Len (20) and Archie Goodwin (almost 19) are the youngest of the young. That being said, Hornacek has indicated that both will figure into the team’s game-to-game picture this season. Workouts and practices are where impressions are made, impressions that solidify or alter the coaching staff’s plans. Will Goodwin continue to impress against better competition? Will Len show off the skill set that had Phoenix high on him in the first place? If the answer to either is “yes”, then it will only strengthen Suns GM Ryan McDonough’s offseason momentum in the public eye.

4) The over-under on practice dunks. My man Greg Esposito already pointed out this year’s Suns roster has unlimited “anarchy” potential. Between Gerald Green, Shannon Brown, Eric Bledsoe and Archie Goodwin, midair collisions might be a real concern if Goran Dragic ever has two or more of that quartet on his squad.

Is There Ever “Just Another Game”?

As sports fans, we tend to be a fickle bunch. For example, if given the option of watching your NBA team win in a blowout or on a last-second jumper, can you say with confidence which you’d prefer? The former option means rest for the starters, but the latter option means a lot more excitement. And while a back-and-forth contest might capture your intrigue a lot more than a lopsided victory, it might not be the best thing for your heart. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Being in Houston, I’m finding another dilemma that sports fans often find themselves matched up against. When speaking with athletes who are about to face their former team, do we want to hear the cliché “it’s just another game” answer, or do we want something more? Logically, we should hope that players feel that every game is as important as humanly possible, but following sports isn’t always logical. In fact, it sometimes involves face paint. [Read more...]

Suns One On One: Foreign All-Star Games

Suns One On One host Greg Esposito sat down with P.J. Tucker and Goran Dragic to discuss their experience in foreign all-star games and find out what dunk one of these two won a dunk contest on. Hear all that and much more on this week’s episode.

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Don’t forget you can find a new episode of the show here every week, you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes and listen in the official Suns App. Also get in touch with the show by email here.

Dragic Isn’t the Only Slovenian Sports Star

The phrase “it’s a small world” has been proven time and time again. It’s apparently even smaller when you’re from Slovenia a country of only has 2 million citizens. [Read more...]

Dragic: “Inside my blood. I love basketball.”

Gerald Bourguet is a guest contributor from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State.

Goran Dragic grew up wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps. But a leg injury and his mother’s urging pointed him down the path toward eventually replacing Phoenix Suns legend Steve Nash.

The new starting point guard for the Suns began his athletic career on a soccer pitch in Slovenia, but his journey detoured to the hardwood of the NBA. This road would take him from Slovenia to Spain to Phoenix to Houston and back to Phoenix, but Dragic is finally where he wants to be.

“It’s just inside me,” he said. “Inside my blood. I love basketball.” [Read more...]

Goran Dragic Accomplishes Lifelong Dream

In politics getting your name on the ballot is as simple as having enough money to run a campaign and good enough looks not to be off putting to the public. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with actual qualifications, at least not all the time (see: former professional wrestlers turned politicians.). In the NBA it’s slightly different.

Sure, both political elections and the All-Star game vote boils down to a popularity contest, but to have your name printed on the ballot in the NBA is a sign of respect and superior skill. It’s something that many players don’t take lightly. [Read more...]

Don’t Call it a Comeback. Call it Historic

Don’t call it a comeback. Call it a historic comeback. Period.

That’s what happened at US Airways Center on Friday night. After trailing the Cavs by as many as 26 points and after falling behind 36-17 after one quarter, the Suns completed the third largest comeback in franchise history and the largest ever seen by a crowd in Phoenix. It was proof that the beauty of sports is anything can happen at any time. [Read more...]

Dragic Inherits More Than Locker

No one knows this more than NBA players. They know when a high-touted player is overrated, and they know when their backup is headed for stardom.

After all, in tight quarters, players are pushing their fellow teammates every day. Some guys break, while others rise to the occasion.

So it wasn’t surprising that when the deal that brought Goran Dragic to Phoenix was completed, the Suns staff received a text from the club’s previous point guard: Steve Nash. [Read more...]