By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After seven straight victories in its preparation games, Serbia suffered its first defeat last night in the hands of Georgia during the “Akropolis International Tournament”.
It was a kinda surprising loss, given the huge quality difference between the two teams and that the “Orlovi” are among the title contenders in the EuroBasket.
For Bogdan Bogdanovic it was a valuable and free of cost lesson on how to behave in close-game situations in the upcoming continental championship.
“That’s why we have these preparation games,” Bogdanovic told Eurohoops. “We need to figure out to move the ball better on offense and play better defense, particularly in the last possessions.”
For the first time in a major tournament of the last decade, the Serbian national team will have to cope with out its captain, natural leader and, pretty much, best player Milos Teodosic. His name was the latest addition in a list of absent players that also includes Stefan Markovic, Marko Simonovic and Nikola Jokic, all members of the squad that won silver medal in last year’s Olympic Games.
Right now head coach Sasa Djordjevic is waiting to find out if Nemanja Nedovic’s examinations will make him eligible for the EuroBasket so that he’ll have one less problem to worry about.
“It’s difficult,” says Bogdanovic. “But what can we do about it now, right? We need to pull out everything we have in every game and try our best. We have to live with that but not dwell. It’s tough, but It’s normal. It happens.”
In light of those absences, the new player of the Sacramento Kings has to underdake a role that he hasn’t been much used to in the national team. That of the play-maker, the primary offensive coordinator, the floor-general. The one who will have to create scoring opportunities for his teammates as much as supplying the need for buckets himself.
“I’ve been a play-maker also in Fenerbahce a couple of times. I feel good about it. As I said, it’s new system for everyone. Especially for some new players. We need to adapt as fast as we can. And we will do that. We will be ready to for Group Phase.”
“As for me, I have no special preferance. I like all positions. I like playing basketball. Wherever the coach puts me to play, I’ll play,” he says.
Following Wednesday’s “friendly” victory over Italy, Serbia’s protagonist in that match Boban Marjanovic christened Bogdan as the leader of this national team’s outfit. Having been acted as such multiple times and highly successfully during his stint with Fenerbahce, it’s a responsibility and challenge he absolutely embraces.
“I feel of course it’s another kind of the pressure. But I like that pressure. That’s what I’ve been working for all this time throughout my career.”
This career will take a lead during next season since Bogdanovic will take his talents to the floors of the NBA with the Kings. His new team has been supportive of him playing in the EuroBasket.
“There was never an issue. I’m healthy. And I have a big desire and wish to play for the national team.”