Argentina- Serbia 97:87 (25:23, 29:26, 14:18, 29:20)

National team of Serbia did not manage to qualify for the semifinals and compete for the medals at the World Cup in China, after it was defeated in the quarterfinals by the national team of Argentina 97:87.

Serbian national team was trailing almost the whole game, but midway through the last quarter they managed to get the lead 70:68. But, after that the national team of Argentina went on a run of their own 19:6 which decided the win. The national team of Serbia will continue their competition on the world cup and fight for the places between 8th and 5th place, and our next opponent will be the defeated team from the duel of USA and France on Thursday, September 12th at 13h. Our national team still has a chance to qualify directly for the Olympic Games, if they manage to be in top two national teams from Europe, but that depends on the other results of the teams go to the semifinals.

The nervousness of our players was seeable at the beginning of the match, which was used by Argentina’s players and after a three pointer from Scola they had the lead to 12:4 in the 3rd minute of the game. National team of Serbia picked up the pace on the defensive side and after a fast-break points scored by Nemanja Bjelica, it managed to tie the score at 16 in the 7th minute. The tie game was played until the end of the first quarter, and all the way until the 15th minute when Argentina scored their 6th three pointer from 10 tries and got the lead up to +8, 39:31. Serbia fought back with a three pointers from Simonovic, Jovic and Bogdanovic, but that was just a part of the help for our team, because the opponent kept making shots from behind the three point line. Thanks to the excellent shot from deep, the Argentina went on to the half with the score 54:49, while our team was dominating in the rebound stat at both ends- 25:8. The Serbian national team opened the second half much better, and cut the lead really quick to 59:57 thanks to Jokic. But, unfortunately after that there was a period of missed layups and bad mistakes which the Argentina’s players used to get the lead up again, 66:59. Head coach, Aleksandar Djordjevic, decided to cut their run with a timeout, after what Serbia took over the game and by the end of the third quarter cut the lead down to only +1 for Argentina, 68:67.

Already in the first offense of the last quarter, Serbia has got the lead thanks to a three pointer from Guduric, 70:68. The happiness did not last long, because Campazzo and Garino with two three pointers started the mini run of Argentina 8:0 and once again got the lead back, 76:70. Not long after that the situation got a lot harder, the Argentina’s veteran Luis Scola got into the flow of the game and got the lead up to 87:76 in the 37th minute. Serbia did not give up, with two three pointers from Bogdanovic the lead was cut down to 91:85 with 80 seconds left in the game. But, soon everything was over. Campazzo scored, after what Deck got a steal and with 48 seconds left in the game Argentina got the lead up to 95:85.

Full game statistics available at:

http://www.fiba.basketball/basketballworldcup/2019/game/1009/Argentina-Serbia#|tab=boxscore

Nemanja Bjelice:

“I would say a lot of things, but I will try to shorten it. A hard loss for us. First, I want to apologize to our people, to the country that believed in us. We had a really good team, but you know how it goes, this kind of tournaments… Maybe we are a better team from Argentina, but they showed us that they want to win more than us. We were not ready for this game, not even mentally, especially not me… I know we are a team, but as one of the leaders, I played bad. The way that those guys celebrated. They all cried. They deserved this win. We are a great group of people, we did not lose because we are arrogant, we just didn’t prepare mentally for this game. I could talk for hours about it, but this loss is really hard. It is killing me. We put in a lot of work this summer. It’s hard, but this is basketball. There are more important things than basketball… Our teammate played this game, even though he lost his mother. We are a good group of people. We wanted to win the World Cup, but we tried in the wrong way… We have been favorites for years, you have to be ready especially for the quarterfinals. Maybe our group wasn’t strong enough… We looked terrible on the court, but we did not underestimate anyone. We had a bad day and now we have to prepare for the next game. We came here as a team, maybe the way we desired to win was wrong … We know how to handle pressure, that is why I don’t talk about euphoria. We just have to finish this strong, and get back home as a team.”

Aleksandar Djordjevic:

“What can I say, we let got on the most important game. A lot of things happened that influenced all this. No matter that we managed to get back into the game in the third quarter, I think they deserved to win. They controlled the game, before everyone the guards, even Vildoza got the confidence along side with Campazzo who dominated. His solutions were really… An excellent game for him. They kept controlling the game. There was a lot of rush on our side, a lot of mistakes, we should have been played more patiently. With different shots, with more passings. Listening to Nemanja Bjelica, and the things he said at the press conference, I can see that they were under pressure This guys did a good job from the start. We were not all there from the beginning, a lot of guys joined later. We have not completed all basic matches that hold you throughout the whole tournament. We need to keep our head up, we have two more games. I believe we can get a ticket to Olympic Games. Depending on other games, the fifth spot can give us a ticket to Olympic games. We need to analyze and we need a practice to pick ourselves up. Unfortunately, It is how it is, the game ended. It is not good for us…”

About players’ decisions:

“It seemed to me that from the very beginning till the end we lacked in composure . We lacked concentration which you could have seen from the beginning. Our switches after picks that were automatic, they got through, those are the mistakes that cost us a lot. First quarter we played well, but they scored in the last seconds. When a team gets into a rhythm like that and has a talent to move the ball like that, characteristic basketball, then those three pointers in the last seconds get you out of your rhythm. Some decisions on the offensive end were rushed, but that is a matter of reading. There was a lot of individualism, and we talked about that at the preparation games. It is like battle field, individualism is important without talent it’s impossible. We should have looked for some things in better cooperation.”

Not everything started well, and the head coach reminded us of that :

“From injuries of two players which you know… Captain Teodosic and Milosavljevic. They know how to play games like this. The energy was felt in some moments, this is a moment we have to sleep on, to pick ourselves up, and if we have a shot at a ticket for the Olympic Games we have to use it.”

We have some words about Vasilije Micic, who’s mother passed away on Monday:

“I want to thank Vasilije Micic publicly. To express my condolences to him and his family. He gathered some strength and we are really grateful to him. What else can I say. We are grateful to everyone who was supporting us even today.. We will see if Vasa is staying. We will see.”

On the question how did the players feel, he reacted a little bit quicker:

“Listening to Bjelica… I told you… There was pressure, mentally. That cannot be seen, or measured. When one of the leaders say that, then my eyes are opened. When one of the leaders… Bjelica should not feel guilty no matter that those are the words of a big athlete. Just like Belineli after Spain, when he took over the responsibility. Those are great players, we are all guilty. Me first, then everyone together. As a group we know how to deal with this. There was an euphoria in the country, everyone was talking how we are going to win the gold. Sometimes that does not help. Totally different. I know what pressure the players had to carry”

He pointed out that the organization of the game was the key:

“ Position, position, position… Guards, guards, guards… And all the respect for the tall players. We made a lot of mistakes, Argentina played an excellent defense. I did not like some decisions from the refs, or our reaction to that. There was a lot of fouls they did not call, and Argentina adapted to that criterion, we didn’t…”

He insisted that our national team got there as a team, and is coming back home as a team.

“I am proud of the guys how they worked, how they found themselves. I am blessed that I am their coach. They always give their maximum. Something was missing, but that is basketball”

– said Djordjevic.