LAS PALMAS, Spain (AFP) - Playing for Slovenia at the Basketball World Cup means a lot to Goran Dragic. It's a chance to be a leader; support Slovenia and Slovenian fans; and play with his brother Zoran.
Slovenia have won their opening two matches in Group D and the Dragic brothers have been flying up and down the court averaging a combined 35.5 points per game.
"It's great. I miss him a lot. He's in Spain and I'm in the USA, but you know we talk a lot by Skype or phone, but it's not the same," said Goran.
"Now we have a perfect situation here to be together, we are in the same room so we can talk. It's my brother, I love him so much and he is playing well so I'm happy," added Goran, who has long been a star at national team level and is slowly becoming one in the NBA as well with the Phoenix Suns.
Slovenia is a country of just over 2 million people, making it the smallest country participating at the World Cup. But that hasn't held back the fans from making an impact at the Gran Canaria Arena. And Goran Dragic and his teammates thrive on the support the fans bring.
"I feel great when we play at home, especially last year at the European Championship," said Goran. "It was great. But even here, it doesn't matter if we play outside (Slovenia), whichever country, they are always going to come and support us. That means something, that means a lot to me and to my team. And it's much easier to play like that."
With Goran and Zoran playing well and great fan support, Slovenia have a lot of momentum at the championships. They are currently fourth in scoring at 89.5 points per game, only behind world basketball giants Argentina, Spain, and the United States. The offence is based around Goran's ability to drive and Slovenia possessing lots of shooters.
"We have a lot of outside shooters and outside guys who can play. Our main two big guys are a little bit light but they can run, they can set screens and roll," said Goran. "In most of those situations they are going to pick and pop. And you know it's a lot of open space, especially in the middle of the paint and we can attack."
Slovenia are now in the driver's seat to get a high seed in Group D, but it might all come down to a matchup with Lithuania on the last day of group play on Thursday. The winner will likely get the first seed in the group as both teams are currently tied in first place.
The winner avoids meeting defending champion United States until the semi-finals. Slovenia just have a couple of things they need to improve upon.
"Defence we can improve, especially some situations where we don't communicate and give up an easy basket," said Goran. "I think if we are going to correct those things we are going to be tough to beat."
With Goran focused, Slovenia will always be tough to beat.