By George Efkarpides/ firstname.lastname@example.org
MANILA, Philippines – Bogdan Bogdanovic showed yet again in the national team jersey what it means to be a leader, as he scored 23 points for a game-high PIR of 28, taking Serbia to the 2023 FIBA World Cup finals.
Even though he was the MVP once again, Bogdanovic praised the whole team for an amazing effort.
“Canada is an amazing team. This was a very difficult game, very physical and demanding from the first minute to the last. I’m happy we won and for the other guys. Aleksa Avramovic was watching Shai’s highlights for the last two days and he said, ‘I’m going to steal one ball from him.’ His defense was unbelievable. But also, other guys. Dobric played an unbelievable game both ways, Milutinov was huge for us, gave us all that space. Guduric was struggling one on one, but now he made big threes, Vanja Marinkovic coming off the bench, Stefan Jovic who wasn’t even in the roster at the beginning. We called him like, ‘We need one experienced point guard, can you come, please?’ Borisa, who texted us again this morning, Dusan Ristic, Dejan Davidovac… Everybody put a little effort and it came out as a big team victory,” Atlanta Hawks guard said.
Bogdanovic also became the sole record holder of 24 consecutive games of at least one 3-pointer made in each of the World Cup games he’s played in.
“Basketball has changed, there’s a lot more threes, we are playing faster, and my work ethic altogether. I didn’t come every year thinking I want to break this and that record, but I’m happy that I achieved that.”
Serbia won its last gold medal in the 2002 World Cup, and the last medal overall in the 2017 Eurobasket, with silver. Now, another one goes in the books, with a win away from another gold.
“I’m really happy and grateful, and also happy for this team. I know how much effort we put in since day one; the coach was really hard on us, it was tough for me too. Being out of the national team for a couple of years, I forgot how it is. That struggle. In the NBA you have a guy to bring you towels, this and that, here you kind of have to do everything by yourself. We went through all this and made it to the finals.”
The first 2023 World Cup finalist had a lot of troubles on its journey to the championship game. Many players couldn’t be with the team at all, while Filip Petrusev and Aleksa Avramovic had injuries during the tournament, and Borisa Simanic finished it in the third game, sustaining a kidney injury, and undergoing two surgeries in Manila, with his kidney eventually being removed.
“That should be an opportunity for other guys. Nobody needs to come here feeling tired. If you are in, you are in. If you are out, you are out. That’s fair and professional. We respect everyone that came here and couldn’t. We are still friends, we love them and need them. I’m happy how everyone responded here; they saw it as an opportunity, not as a pressure. To play at the World Cup, you get a couple of chances in your life and this is one of the best groups of guys I’ve been working with.”
Asked about Nikola Jokic, who after winning the NBA championship with the Denver Nuggets couldn’t help the Serbian national team this summer, Bogdanovic said: “Nikola Jokic texts us after every game“.
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