A Defensive Showcase: Serbia Secures a Spot in the Final

A Defensive Showcase: Serbia Secures a Spot in the Final

Serbia has once again demonstrated its prowess in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, securing a place in the Final with a commanding all-around performance against Canada in front of 8,630 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena. The final score read 95-86 in favor of Serbia, setting the stage for a potential rematch of the 2014 title game, with the United States awaiting the outcome of their Semi-Final clash against Germany.

Key Turning Point: Historically, the strategy against teams boasting numerous NBA players was to slow down the pace and stay competitive for as long as possible. However, Serbia had a different game plan, masterminded by the astute coaching of Svetislav Pesic. It was Serbia’s up-tempo style, athleticism, and physicality, exemplified by Aleksa Avramovic’s defensive pressure, that troubled Canada. Serbia maintained the lead for most of the game, and when Marko Guduric and Vanja Marinkovic sank consecutive three-pointers to close the third quarter, followed by Avramovic’s backcourt steal and easy dunk to start the fourth, it became evident that the game was evolving into a Serbian celebration in Manila.

Pesic’s team established a commanding 17-point lead early in the fourth quarter, and Canada could not mount a miraculous comeback from that point onward.

TCL Player of the Game: Bogdan Bogdanovic continues to excel when he dons the Serbian jersey. He has scored 15 or more points in six consecutive games, maintained a streak of making at least one three-pointer in 24 consecutive World Cup games, and accumulated 16 steals in the 2023 tournament, establishing himself as the Serbian player with the most steals in a single World Cup competition. Beyond the numbers, his presence on the court was electrifying, delighting the fans. Bogdanovic’s impeccable performance was sealed with back-to-back steals in the final three minutes, solidifying Serbia’s victory. He concluded the game with 23 points, marking his 11th World Cup game with 20+ points, trailing only behind Luis Scola (16) and Dirk Nowitzki (12) in the 20th century.

Statistical Dominance: Serbia exhibited dominance in various statistical categories, particularly in the painted area, which has been their forte throughout the tournament. They shot an astounding 27-of-38 from two-point range, boasting a remarkable 71.1% accuracy, and an overall field goal percentage of 62.1%. Since 1994, only one other World Cup Semi-Finalist has achieved a better shooting percentage than Serbia did today. In 2006, Greece set a World Cup Semi-Final record by shooting 62.5% (71.1% from two-point range, tying with Serbia in this category) when they defeated the USA in a legendary performance. Serbia also excelled in securing offensive rebounds and outscored Canada 12-4 in second-chance points.

The Bottom Line: Svetislav Pesic now has a unique opportunity to reach the pinnacle of world basketball once again, 21 years after guiding FR Yugoslavia to gold in Indianapolis. This game embodied everything a coach could desire, with exceptional contributions from every member of the roster, not solely relying on Bogdan Bogdanovic. Nikola Milutinov recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Ognjen Dobric scored 16 points while managing the defensive responsibilities against Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Marko Guduric contributed 12 points, Aleksa Avramovic added 10, and Serbia boasted a +15 team performance with Aleksa on the court.

Canada, led by RJ Barrett’s 23 points, was stunned by the sheer power and strength of their opponent. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 15 points and 9 assists, a notable drop from his average of 30.5 points per game over the last two games.

Words from the Coach and Players:

“The defense starts with our guards, and it’s a chain effect for the rest of the team. Just one person messes up, and the whole chain falls apart. The taller guys have a lot of trust in our guards and their ball pressure, the rest of the team gives them a lot of trust. That’s why they are playing with a lot of confidence. Dobric was already great on defense vs. Lithuania, but it wasn’t noticeable because of his offense. And look at him today, 13 points… No, wait, 16 points! In a World Cup Semi-Final!” – Svetislav Pesic, Serbia head coach, discussing Aleksa Avramovic and Ognjen Dobric.

A Defensive Showcase: Serbia Secures a Spot in the Final

“I have never seen anything like this in my life, this amount of energy. It’s incredible. I can only wish them to have a good night’s sleep today and tomorrow so they can keep this rhythm up in the Final. We’re just trying to follow their lead. It all starts with them. I knew everything about Dobric and his game; we grew up together, and now I finally met Aleksa and realized what he can do.” – Marko Guduric, Serbia.


Bogdan Bogdanovic Once Again Delivered a Performance for the Ages, 

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