Serbia on B92.net scanner: There's a quality for winning a medal, extra effort needed
Serbian national basketball team started the second round of qualification for the World Cup with a victory against Greece - 100:94.Source: B92, Igor Pavlovic
The basketball spectacle in Stark Arena was attended by 19.150 fans, which set a new record for the FIBA qualification for Mundobasket.
Whoever watched the match between Serbia and Greece definitely did not regret it. Spectacular basketball in the capital of our country was followed throughout the Old Continent, and a direct duel between two NBA stars, Nikola Jokić and Giannis Antetokounmpo, attracted special attention.
The popular "Joker" finished the match with 29 points, while Giannis scored an incredible 40. However, the Serbian center had much more reason to celebrate at the end of the game.
No matter how strange it sounds from this distance, one gets the impression that the course of the duel was determined by the first part. Both selections played in the fifth gear, which suited Dimitrios Itoudis's team better.
Many times the Greeks had situations to attack the "eagles" defense from the transition, which would usually end with attractive dunks. As many as 25 received (mostly easy) points for the quarter were a clear sign that a different approach must be taken in the sequel.
It is incomprehensible that Serbia did not "cut" the fluttering and attractive game of its rivals with fouls, which is also indicated by the fact that the first one was committed only two and a half minutes before the end of the period.
The huge offensive potential of our team allowed us to resist with 31 points in the "NBA quarter", so we could enter the second quarter with calmer heads.
Positional attacks in the sequel immediately proved successful. The "Eagles" gained a nine-point advantage after only two minutes of play, thus showing that it is not necessary to "chase" the Greeks and adapt to their style of play in order to be equal.
It didn't take much for the opponent to get back into the match and turn the score around. Serbia has shown on several occasions that it lacks "that something" in order to gain a more significant difference and practically "close" the match.
No matter how good the result was in the end, it is clear that Pešić will have segments in the coming days that still need to be worked on. The incredible energy of Vladimir Lučić and the (returned) confidence of Ognjen Jaramaz gave the advantage to our national team, which until the end of the match went through more "roller coaster" moments.
Every time we didn't increase the advantage we got, we would get a penalty. Although everything went our way, starting with a full hall, great momentum... We would always make hasty decisions in situations where it was completely unnecessary.
When the line is drawn, the game was broken by the centers of our team. In addition to the masterful Nikola Jokić, who with scoring 29 points showed why he is the NBA MVP for the second year in a row, Nikola Milutinov also had a great performance.
The CSKA center has been struggling with injuries for a long time, but judging by his latest release, he seems to have returned to recognizable form. In 14 minutes on the field, he scored 12 points (shooting percentage over 57%) and grabbed 4 rebounds.
Due to the fact that during the entire match we managed to give the Greeks headaches in the racket, a lot of space was automatically opened up for shots from the outside.
The unstoppable "Joker" presented himself to the home fans as a real leader of this generation, which he showed in almost every moment when he had to take responsibility.
His three-pointer from the turn over Giannis clearly confirms that Europe hasn't got such a magnificent player since Dirk Nowitzki.
There is no shortage of energy, enthusiasm and playing quality in our national team.
Serbia is without a doubt a competitor for a medal at the Eurobasket, despite all the bad luck that befell us. Certain segments in the game can and must be worked on, but that part remains on the head coach.
If Micić's health report is positive, Kari will be in an excellent position to repeat the success of 2001 on September 18.