Undeterred and laser-focused, Serbia orchestrated an impressive triumph, defeating World Cup newcomers South Sudan with ease, securing their berth in the Second Round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.
Despite South Sudan entering the contest with their maiden World Cup victory, the Serbian squad, guided by the triumvirate of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nikola Jovic, and Nikola Milutinov, showcased their prowess. This triumphant display marked Serbia’s inaugural clash with the African team and propelled them to seize the first position in Group B, boasting an unblemished record of 3-0. South Sudan, on the other hand, concluded the initial group stage with a 1-2 record.
Decisive Moment: Serbia had maintained a lead throughout the entirety of the second quarter, with the score standing at 45-36. Their dominance persisted as they concluded the first half with a potent 10-3 surge, entering halftime with a commanding advantage of 56-39. The lead further ballooned to 29 points during the third quarter, effectively stifling South Sudan’s attempts to narrow the gap, as the Africans could only reduce the margin to 18 points for the remainder of the game.
TCL Player of the Game: Although Bogdan Bogdanovic contributed 23 points along with 9 assists, and Nikola Milutinov tallied 17 points coupled with 13 rebounds, the coveted TCL Player of the Game accolade was bestowed upon Nikola Jovic. Jovic delivered a stellar performance, amassing 25 points on a perfect 9-of-9 shooting, including a flawless 5-of-5 from beyond the arc. He also chipped in with 3 assists and 2 rebounds.
Numbers Illuminate: Serbia showcased impeccable accuracy, shooting at an impressive 62 percent overall while sinking 17 three-pointers at a commendable 53 percent accuracy. Their ball movement was evident in the 34 assists they dished out, while turnovers were limited to a mere 8. Serbia also dominated in points off turnovers (23-16) and second-chance points (16-8).
The Bottom Line: Serbia can now shift its focus to the upcoming Second Round, where they are slated to face off against the Dominican Republic and Italy. Their current standing remains unaffected by the outcome of the final match of the day. On the flip side, South Sudan’s advancement to the Second Round hinges on the outcome of the China vs. Puerto Rico match. If China wins by a margin of 34 points or fewer, South Sudan retains a chance. Otherwise, they will transition to the Classification 17-32 phase, aiming to secure a pathway to the Olympics or Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.