By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Serbia finished Group D undefeated by taking down Italy, 92-77, at Foshan on Wednesday.
Bogdan Bogdanovic missed 4 out his 9 free throws, but made six three-pointers for 31 points, also tallied 5 dimes, 5 steals and 4 rebounds. Nikola Jokic added 15 points, Miroslav Raduljica 12 and Stefan Jovic 11.
“We are not much better than the Italian team” Sasha Djordjevic mentioned after the contest. “In our two friendly games they did not have all their players. They showed their strength today. We struggled, but never stopped defending.”
“He was fired up. He was very good defensively as well. He took on the individual challenge of the great Italian guards. I believe he played more than we thought that he should, but he will be ready for the second round” the Serbian head coach added on Bogdanovic.
On part of the players, Nemanja Bjelica was present at the post-game press conference. “We were nervous in the beginning, it was like a quarterfinal for us” he said after his 5 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds, “We did not play very well, but controlled the game against a good team with a lot of players with NBA experience.”
Djordjevic’s side was in control throughout the 40 minutes even though the Italians refused to give up. Hitting 10/24 for 42% from three-point range and the 35-27 rebounding advantage proved more than enough.
“We knew it was difficult to play against Serbia because of their power inside, it is difficult to cover. When they move the ball for an outside shot, they make the shot. It is difficult for us” noted Meo Sacchetti. “We have no inside game.”
This first two 2019 FIBA World Cup matches did not present any challenge to Serbia, but the third was not as comfortable. Danilo Gallinari had his part in Italy staying close with 26 points on 8/13 from the field including 3/5 threes.
Serbia commanded the play reaching double-digit leads in every quarter but the first. In the third quarter, the Italians even got one bucket shy from claiming their first lead from the opening stage of the contest, but were stopped similar to the rest of their comeback runs.
“Our goal was to put them in trouble. I think we did it for most of the game” revealed Luigi Datome after scoring 5 points in 27 minutes. “At the end of the day, the best team won. The next game is basically win or go home.”
Up next for both national teams is Group J action at Wuhan versus Spain and Puerto Rico. The Serbians will kick off the second round on a 3-0 W-L tally and held the Azzurri down to 2-1.
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL