By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
DONGGUAN — Following the loss to Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinals, Serbia coach Sasha Djordjevic didn’t omit to express his gratitude towards his player Vasilije Micic for opting to stay with his national team, despite his mother’s passing one day before the match.
“I told my players I’m so grateful to have him. He’s the most courageous guy. He showed great belief in all of us. We are all with him right now. This is courage. It takes a lot of courage. He really tried to help. Obviously, it didn’t happen just like that. This is something that’s not going to go away just like that. I’m grateful. The whole country is grateful. My stuff is grateful. He showed some greatness,’ Djordjevic said in the post-game presser.
Serbia, the 2014 silver medalist, was hailed as the favorite to win the gold medal in thIS World Cup. The team won’t even compete among the top four teams in the tournament something that went against all predictions plus the hopes of people from Serbia.
“Nemanja is obviously hurt. We’re hurt. This is really a tough loss,” Djordjevic said after Nemanja Bjelica’s statements. He said he doesn’t want to add a lot of things. You can see through his words what kind of mental pressure this guy had. It was euphoria in our country. Everybody was following us and giving us a hand. Everybody really was eager to see us play in this tournament. We became favorites just like that. Everybody was saying that we are the favorites and that we will win etc. Sometimes, this doesn’t help. On the contrary. Maybe sometimes we think that these guys are tough and experienced and everything else. Especially him being one of the leaders. But you see how deeply he explained all the things that are going through his head.
“Playmaking was the key. In real estate, they say ‘location, location, location, like smarter people than me, have said.” In basketball, it’s ‘Guards, guards, guards’. With all respect to the big men. And this is something we saw today.”
“Campazzo dominated the game completely. He really picked up their winning ability,” Djordjevic later commented.
Regarding the game’s progress, Djordjevic said the following:
“They were always under control. We had many turnovers in the first half. Maybe due to not being mentally prepared but also due to Argentina’s great defense.
I didn’t like a lot of calls especially in the first half, calls on Marjanovic. I didn’t like our reaction after that. But there was some hacking which is definitely the plan of Argentina. They are the ones with the most steals in the tournament and their hands were so quick. There were a lot of fouls that weren’t called and Argentina adjusted to that criteria. We didn’t.”
In a good moment in the third quarter, we came back. We took the lead. If that moment lasted a little longer I think we would be up a little more and take that lead we needed so much. We made some turnovers that you can’t do in this game. I put my goal to have under 10. We had 10 in the first half in this game.”
“As Nemanja said, I’m proud of these guys. Of what we did. This is a great group of guys and I’m blessed to be their coach. They are always giving 100%. Something was missing in the last games. But that’s basketball,” Djordjevic added.
Photo: FIBA Basketball