By Stefan Djordjevic / firstname.lastname@example.org
Filip Petrusev was no stranger to the Serbian national team as he led the U18 selections to the back-to-back EuroBasket titles in 2017 and 2018, however, he was yet to debut for the seniors.
He was supposed to put on the jersey in the previous window of EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers but the coronavirus stopped him from doing so. His chance finally came and it was in a crucial game for Serbia which had to win one of the two last clashes in order to qualify.
“I was just happy to be out there and it ended up being a really good game for me so I’m always going to remember it. It’s my first game so everything was special,” Petrusev said. And he did deliver indeed in Serbia’s 92-66 win over Georgia.
The debutant was the main season for it as he banked in 27 points on 10-15 shooting including 2-3 from deep. He also grabbed six rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal. Highly impressive and perhaps unique that a player debuts for the national team with such a stat line.
After two years at Gonzaga, the 20-year-old big man decided to come back to Serbia to start his pro career with Mega Soccerbet and he immediately started turning heads.
He’s leading the ABA League with a 28.4 average PIR as well as 23.6 points per game while being the runner-up when it comes to rebounding with 7.7.
As coach Igor Kokoskov had to lead Fenerbahce BEKO in EuroLeague for the game against Alba Berlin, the national team responsibility fell on the assistant Dejan Milojevic who also has had experience training young prospects as the former coach of, none other than, Mega itself.
Needless to say, he knew how to push Petrusev and the uprising star recognized that. “They trusted me. They knew it was my first time. They just wanted to encourage me and make sure I feel comfortable because if I’m comfortable and just out there then I will do my best.”
Petrusev’s size and low-post technique have been remarkable and gave trouble to even the experienced Georgian veteran Giorgi Shermadini while the agility and athleticism coupled with an impressive guard-like skill set make him almost a complete package.
Serbia got itself a player for years to come and it will be interesting to watch him develop and fulfill his potential.
Photo Credit: FIBA.basketball