Italy – Serbia 77:92 (23:28, 19:22, 15:20, 20:22)

In the last game of the first phase of the World Cup in China, national team of Serbia has won their third game in group D after they have had better score in the game against Italy 92:77.

Our team is moving to Wuhan as the top seeded team in the group, where they will form a new group J with Italy and first two teams from the group C- Spain and Puerto Rico. The game against Puerto Rico is on Friday, September the 6th, and the game against Spain is on Sunday, September the 8th.

The game against Italy kicked off pretty equally, and after a three pointer from Bogdanovic in the 3rd minute the score was tied at 8. Both teams were nervous, after a third three pointer from Bogdanovic in the 5th minute, the score was 13:10. In the 7th minute, after a three pointer from Jovic and points from Jokic, the score was 20:14. After Marjanovic scored two free throws and got the lead up to 7 with a minute left in the first quarter, 26:19. The first quarter ended and Serbia had +5 lead, 28:23.

In the second quarter, our players were better and they controlled the situation on the court, while the Italians kept up with the three pointers. After two good plays and a three pointers by Jovic and Bogdanovic, the score was 39:29 for Serbia in the 14th minute. But, after that Italians had a mini run of their own, 5:0. Our players had an answer to that too, so after a layup by Micic, with 3 minutes left in the half the lead was back up to +10 for Serbia, 48:38. At the half time the score was 50:42.

At the start of the third quarter, the Italian team has caught up with a series of three pointers and cut the lead down to 53:55 for Serbia. Anyway, Bjelica, Raduljica and others stopped them from getting the lead with couple of good defenses, but our offense shots were not going in. So the lead was going up and down from +2 to +6 points. In those moments the initiative was taken by Raduljica who got fouled three times in a row, after that they fouled Bogdanovic, so our team got the lead back up to +10 from a free throw line, 64:54. Bjelica got the lead at the end of the quarter to +13, biggest one yet, 70:57.

Once again, at the beginning of the last quarter, Italy had a mini run 5:0 and got back into the game that way, but Bogdanovic made a three pointer and Raduljica from a free throw resisted the comeback, 76:62 33 minute. After that there Gallinari fouled Raduljica, and the referees called it an unsportsmanlike foul, who made his free throws again (12-13 free throws). Couple of moments later Bogdanovic stole a ball and scored on the other side for +15, 80:65, 6 minutes left in the game. Minute after that, Bjelica made a three pointer, then Bogdanovic stole another ball and passed it to Lucic who slammed dunked it, the score was 85:67, 4:30 left in the game. Excellent Bogdanovic made a three pointer and got the lead up to +23, 90:67, and just showed the power of our team.

Full game statistics you can see here:
http://www.fiba.basketball/sr/basketballworldcup/2019/game/0409/Italy-Serbia#tab=boxscore

Bogdan Bogdanovic got an MVP award from the host for the match against Italy.

Nemanja Bjelica:

“We had a really important game, at the beginning we were a little bit nervous, which is normal, for us this was like quarter-finals. We showed that we are better, we did not play good but we had a playing constant all 40 minutes. The opponent was a really good team, a lot of their players have NBA experience. A really nice win and we cannot wait for the next round.”

Aleksandar Djordjevic:

“ It is the third time we have played against Italy in the last 20 days. I said it is not easy to win 3:0 even in the Play-off, even if you are better a lot, and we are not better a lot. Their roster was complete, you can see they have pride, quality, excellent shooting team… In the first half they were shooting well from three pointer and free throws. We had a hard time getting in to rhythm we wanted, but we did not stop defending. Players that gave us energy are Lucic who is coming back, Raduljica who slowed down our game. We knew what we were doing. That is normal, he knows the system, he what he has to do and he took responsibility. I am not happy with the numbers of the turnovers and the reaction after the physical duels. We don’t want to react like that, we want to react in terms of basketball. That is the thing that young players have to understand. That was the plan of the game, I asked them not to react unsportsmanlike. There was the difference in contribution of the young players in this game compared to the older ones, but these are the first important games on the WC. The only thing is that the players need to be more relaxed, because now every next game is more important than the one before.”

That is not all:

“As you could see we did not play perfect, but I do not even want them to play perfect. Every good thing is important, our players are getting to the place where the individual game is becoming less important to them, if you want to be happy with your game, the only thing that matter is the contribution you bring to the team. You could feel the importance of the game, it brought the tension and the nervousness… That is all normal, this is what we were preparing ourselves for. This kind of games cannot be played like the two before this one, every ball is important, every rebound and every point is important… We were concentrated from the beginning so we could get the win with a good defense, no matter at 52 points scored at the half. We have to play even better defense.”

Next opponent is Puerto Rico:

“The team that has such character, excellent team which comes out of fantastic country with that character “killer” of great teams, that happened throughout history. Just remember when our fantastic teams lost against Puerto Rico on big tournaments. They are a team with a lot of pride and a lot of physical strength, specific, they play basketball with a lot of offensive talent, you cannot know who is going to make three pointer over who.”