Slovenia coach, key player retire after Euro triumph

Ljubljana (AFP) –


Days after clinching the European title the coach and star player of Slovenia's basketball team announced their retirement from national duty on Tuesday to return to the United States and the NBA.

"I've accomplished what I had wished for and I think the right thing to do is to conclude (my career in the national team) at this point," Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragic, 31, told a news conference in Ljubljana.

He added he was sorry he would not "be able to be with the (Slovenian national) squad in November" for the world championship qualifiers.

At Sunday's finals against Serbia, Dragic, playing his last international match, led the way with 35 points as Slovenia became the smallest country to lift the European title since Latvia in 1935.

The team's Serbian coach, Utah Jazz assistant coach Igor Kokoskov, 45, also announced he would not be able to join the team for the winter qualifiers.

"I have commitments at the (NBA club) Utah Jazz... We have to find the best way to continue this story. We'll find a way to do it. Certainly, I will help them in the future, maybe as an adviser, maybe I'll spend some weeks here," Kokoskov said.

He added his roll in Slovenia's victory had been "important but not the most important thing for the team."

A crowd of over 20,000 gave a heroes' welcome to the national team on Sunday as it returned from the Istanbul where it won the first golden medal for the two-million nation that declared independence in 1991.