Spain- Serbia 81:69(13:20, 32:17, 22:19, 14:13)

Our national team has suffered its first defeat in the last round of group J in Wuhan against Spain 81:69, on the World Cup in China.

Serbia will play in the quarter finals on Tuesday, September 10th, at 13:00h in the Dongguan arena against the first seeded team from group I, Argentina.

The game started really stiff, with strong defenses on both sides. It was hard to score, so after 4:30 minutes and a great dunk by Milutinov it was 8:6 for our team. This was followed by a mini run by our team, so the head coach of Spain had to react with a timeout- after 6 minutes the score was 13:6. Our players just kept picking up the rhythm, so after a great plays by Bogdanovic and Jovic in the 9th minute it was 20:11.

In the second quarter Spain started with a run 13:2, so after two and a half minutes they lead 26:22. It was a bad period of play for our team, nothing was going as it was supposed, so the opponent lead with 35:27 in the 17th minute. After that they even got the lead up to +10 with 1:15 left in the half. After six minutes of playtime in the second quarter, our team has only scored 2 free throws… Before the break, Serbia managed to lower the difference thanks to Bogdanovic, but Llull scored a three pointer in the last second for 45:37, for Spain.

At the start of the third quarter Spain players were better, in the 22nd minute they had +14 – 51:37. In the 24th minute, after a doubtful call of a jump ball on Jokic, he protested because he thought he was fouled, the referee gave him a technical foul, which was followed up by a him getting ejected. Two minutes later, Spain has raised their lead up to +21, after a three pointer from Claver and two pointers by Gasol and Rubio, 63:42. Our team was trying to catch up, and after two dunks by Bogdanovic the lead was down to +12, a minute before the end of the third quarter, the score was 53:65. In the last offense of the third quarter, Micic was fouled while shooting a three pointer, and he scored all three free throws. So Serbia got the lead down to +11 at the end of the quarter, 56:67.

Raduljica dunked it at the beginning of the fourth quarter, so the lead was single digit now (58:67), but after a three pointer from Llull in the 33rd minute Spain had +14 once again – 72:58. Then Bogdanovic scored 5 free throws because he was fouled twice , and he brought the lead down to +9 once again – 63:72, 34th minute. Micic scored, Jovic blocked Rubio, but Raduljica missed a mid range shot, so on the other side Claver converted “and one” play, 77:65, 36th minute. Bogdanovic scored a three pointer and brought hope with 3:22 left, 68:77, but our national team did not have concentration or strength to come back.

Full game statistics of the game is available at:

http://www.fiba.basketball/sr/basketballworldcup/2019/game/0809/Spain-Serbia#tab=boxscore

THE GAME AGAINST SPAIN WAS A 100TH GAME FOR HEAD COACH, ALEKSANDAR DJORDJEVIC ON THE BENCH OF THE NATIONAL TEAM OF SERBIA.

Aleksandar Djordjevic:

“Congratulations to Spain. They were definitely a better team. They kicked us out of the game, we could not do what we planned, we did not answer on the defensive changes they did. Too many turnovers, 17 for a game like this is just unbelievable. Later on we played hard. We got back with heart, strong defense. They were shooting excellent, but our defensive mistakes were so obvious that is not allowed against a team that’s like Spain. Experienced team, with excellent guards, great point guards and one more on the position of the center, Marc Gasol. They were better, they shorted the rotation and they deserved the win.”

The ejection of Jokic is a different topic:

“I do not like that stupid reaction. We are allowed to lose, but with him on the court. You have to stay and be one of the leaders on the court. We already talked in the locker room. There is no long meetings. He knows. He is a strong man, I would love to have him out there today. The absence of our best center is not an excuse for us. We can play without anyone, because we have to. That is the situation that has to be understood, and I hope it won’t happen again. He has a great personality. The players grow throughout the whole career, not just until one moment. They grow until the last day. I want him to grow, to understand how to play. He is a big kid, he will understand”- Djordjevic laughed and added:
“Everyone is preparing individually in different way. In those moments you need experience to know how to react. This is his second big competition. The expectations are huge, no one should take a big responsibility on himself. We are all here, I should take the biggest responsibility, specially at losses like this. The player is needed on the court. We got back after a half with an idea, but then the episode with Jokic happened. Honestly, even if he played, I think we would have lost the game. We did not recognize the miss-matches when we could, the ball was not going where it was supposed to.”

What kind of reaction does the head coach of Serbia expect from the team?

“This is the first loss of this summer. It did not arrive in the best moment, honestly, but we are not losing focus. We have to wake up, to realize we have to play together. We play the best when we move the ball, and we were not that team today. Maybe some players wanted to take individual responsibility, but we do not need that.”

Against Italy, Djorjdevic’s weapon were timeouts. Against Spain the team did not react the right way even after a minute break.

“Those are two different teams. Sometimes timeout works, sometimes it does not. It is not a magic wand. But in the second quarter nothing worked, we just stopped playing our game. We were thinking too much, we did not relax, we did not play like we play. When you think, you are slower physically. We did not manage to agree. We have to keep our head up and go forward.”

Coach talked also about the second quarter:

“It was a decisive, they put us in a problem with a defensive change. We knew it is going to happened, we were ready, but we just stopped, thought too much. Those 32:17 were their strength. It was a lot of individual mistakes, defensive while switching, we were not able to box-out. It was like we raised the hard break.”

Regarding the opponent, Djordjevic did not think too much.

“Excellent pointguard game for Rubio who had everything in his heads, and he showed who he is. And again, pointguard game for Gasol, who showed why is he a champion of NBA. When we manage to pressure up their guards, he is the one who manages to ease the pressure and move the ball to the other side.”

Reaciton in the finish is something for optimism.

“In the second half we played with heart, we were missing a little bit of luck. Some turnovers which cannot be explained, missed layups, their offensive rebounds. Those episodes did not allow us to reach a tied finish of the game.”

Spain might be the hardest team on the World Cup.

“At this moment definitely the most experienced. They know how to play games like this. Unfortunately, a really bad night happened to us, but really good to them.”

Next opponent is Argentina.

“Now we need to relax. We are good when we play together, there were timeouts when I would tell them: “Trust the person next to you, not only yourself. Believe that he will find a good solution”. That was our strength and it should be moving on. We have to find the way for the ball to reach the basket. Against Spain we could not find the way, they have the players that are stronger, by size there is no one close. I did not use Marjanovic, I think he would get lost in their speed. Good game by Milutinov at the beginning, Raduljica good once again, he brought us security. We have to understand that that is our advantage, the ball should go to our centers more. Spain played with 9 players, they all arrived prepared for the World Cup. Simply, our players are not ready. We need to relax and approach the next game even harder.”

Bogdan Bogdanovic:

“Congratulations to Spain, they destroyed us…We are not eliminated, but we have to take out only positive things. They were a hard rival, more experienced team. We have to take the best out of the game.”