It seems that the Serbian national team didn’t need Nikola Jokic after all. Atlanta star Bogdan Bogdanovic took the spotlight after the NBA’s 2022/23 season MVP decided not to represent his country during this FIBA World Cup, and has now eliminated a historic Canadian team 95-86 and is headed for the championship title.
The Hawks guard dropped in 23 points on this Friday’s semifinal contest, while Ognjen Dobric and Nikola Milutinov each hit 16 for the Europeans, who are the best-shooting team so far in the tournament. During the competition, they’ve made 55% of their shots, but connected 62% of them to defeat Canada.
“It doesn’t matter who’s not here,” said Serbian teammate Marko Guduric. “It’s all about this group of guys, whoever is here, whoever is wearing this Serbian jersey. We never give up. We fight until the end. It’s in our blood.”
Serbia, who are now 6-1 in this tournament, have reached the final for the second time in the last three FIBA editions. They will face Germany on Sunday as they just beat Team USA by a 2-point margin this Friday.
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“Nobody believed but we didn’t care about anybody,” expressed Filip Petrusev, Serbian forward. “We just had fun with each other. It’s a great group of guys, great chemistry, and when you have good chemistry and great players, anything can happen. We believed and we’re here.”
As for the Canadians, RJ Barrett led the charge and also scored 23 points. Now they will face Team USA for a North American derby in search for the World Cup’s bronze medal.
“Credit to Serbia. They played a great game,” the Knicks star said. “They played hard, they played physical, they’re very well-coached and disciplined. Got to give them credit for that.”
Dillon Brooks, who’d called himself ‘the best defender in the world’ before the contest, scored 16 for Canada and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit 15, 10 points below his competition average.
“I want to dedicate this win to him,” Guduric said of Simanic, who’s recovering in a Manila hospital. “Hopefully, we’re going to see him soon with us, with the team. Just want to say that hopefully he feels a little bit better when he knows he has a medal. I know it’s not important, but I hope we made him happy tonight.”
Canada’s head coach is proud of his team and is convinced they will do anything to bring back a medal in Sunday’s clash against Team USA
For the first time in history, the United States and Canada will face each other for a FIBA World Cup medal. Even though they didn’t produce their best performance against the Serbians this Friday, head coach Jordi Fernandez is extremely proud of his roster.
“I’m proud of my guys,” the Canadian coach expressed. “It was not perfect. We were OK offensively. We were atrocious defensively. When a team shoots 62% from the field and 45% from 3, obviously something was not done well and we didn’t prepare well enough for the game.”
“I think we lost because we didn’t defend. I’ll leave the officiating for whoever judges the officials,” Fernandez added. “I can only say to them thanks for doing their jobs. Without officials we couldn’t play the game of basketball.”
Canada’s only hope for a medal is to beat Team USA in a historic World Cup matchup. “I know these guys will do whatever it takes to go get that medal,” the head coach assured.