ISTANBUL (2010 FIBA World Championship) - Neither Slovenia, nor Russia had a chance to win a medal on Saturday.
There was only pride to play for in what could best be described as a near-empty Sinan Erdem Dome.
It was the battle for seventh place.
It certainly didn’t bring the best out of either side.
After a long, hard summer and tough games at the FIBA World Championship, the Slovenians and Russians had to play a Classification Round game.
In the first quarter, when Slovenia’s Bostjan Nachbar slammed a water bottle to the court after being pulled out of the game by his coach Memi Becirovic, and the liquid spread all over the court to force a delay while ball-boys mopped up the mess, the player looked as if he’d had enough.
"I think yes,” said Slovenia coach Memi Becirovic, when asked if the Classification Round games should be abolished.
“They have no point.
“The players are tired, (they have) no motivation and especially for the coaches, it's very tough to run such a game.
“So I think it's best that if you lose the Quarter-Finals, you are fifth through eighth place and you go home.”
Did the players tell the coach they didn’t want to play a seventh-place game on Saturday?
"No, but when you see the players, you see only angry faces,” Becirovic said.
“We are coaches, we want to try some tactical things and they are not following us.”
It was a frustrating day for the Slovenians, who led by 14 points in the third quarter but ended up losing, 83-78.
Having lost only to team USA in the Preliminary Round, Slovenia hammered Australia in the Eight-Finals to reach the last eight for the first time in their history.
Unfortunately for Slovenia, they ran into a Turkey national team backed by a partisan crowd in the Quarter-Finals and ended up getting blown out, 95-68.
Slovenia then lost to Spain, and finally Russia, in the Classification Round games.
"We made it one step further. It's good for our country,” Becirovic said.
“But maybe those last games made a bad picture of us.
"Generally speaking, we've taken a step forward, we're eighth place in the world and it's good for our country."
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