In the first game of FIBA MundoBasket Qualification Tournament Serbia won 85 – 64 against Austria in Belgrade Hall “Aleksandar Nikolić”.
It was not surprise that Serbia won, and only team when Austria got closer was in the first minutes of the games, but after score 9 – 8 for Serbia, guests didn’t have any chance of making any surprise in the game against vice champions from EuroBasket 2017.
For Serbian team, the best scorer for winning team was Ivan Paunić with 16 points, while two players finished the game with 15 points – Miroslav Raduljica and Marko Simonović. For Austria, the best was Rašid Mahalbašić with 15 points.
Serbian team started in slow tempo but it was enough for 7 – 0 after 4 minutes of the game. First points for Austria made Mahalbašić, and soon guests made a first threat because the result was 9 – 8, but then Simonović and Bircević made both three point shots and help home team to lead by 6. At the end of the first quarter the result was 17 – 12 for Serbia.
In the second quarter first points for Serbian team were made by Raduljica, who came from China to play for his country. First double digits lead for Serbia came after four minutes in the second quarter thanks to Dejan Todorović, who made three points shot, and soon after another one for score 30 – 16. After 20 minutes of the game, Serbia was leading by 15 (44 – 29).
After first half the best scorer for Serbian team was Ivan Paunić with 9 points, while Todorović scored 8. In Austrian team, the best was Sebastian Koch with 7 points.
Te third quarter was similar to the second one, Austria wasn’t able to get close enough and at the end the result was 59 – 42. In the last quarter, Serbia only advanced their lead and at the end of the game the result was 85 – 64 for home team.
After the game, lots of Serbian players were in the mood to give interviews because everyone was happy that they were able to say yes to coach Aleksandar Đorđević, because their clubs allowed them to play during the season.
Ilija Đoković, young player from Borac Čačak and only player in the national team who plays Serbian League and ABA 2 League was very happy that Đorđević called him.
“This is an amazing feeling, first time I was a part of something like this. I am very happy, because we won and I was a part of this team. We played as we agreed, but now I will go back home and watch this game to see what we did and what has to be improved”, said newcomer Đoković.
On the court, it didn’t look like he played first time for senior national team, and it looked like coach Đorđević trusted him during the game.
“I am very thankful for this opportunity. I hope I used minutes on the court, but coach will be judge of that. Now is time for rest and for new game we play on Monday”.
While he was with national team, his team mates from Borac played an important game against Mladost, and unfortunately lost 81 – 73 in Basketball League of Serbia, but Đoković is hoping that his team will made it in play off of ABA 2 League, and give their best in Serbian League as always.
Marko Simonović was satisfied after the game because Serbia won and because he was able to help agains Austria.
“I am glad we won, especially because we are now totally new team. I know all players from before, because I played against all of them. I didn’t know how we will all look like on the court because we didn’t have lots of practices together but tonight we played as a team, and didn’t allow any surprise here”, said Simonović who knows that the game against Georgia will be more difficult, but Serbia won’t let any surprise in Belgrade.
“Well, on Monday will be more difficult, because Georgia is better team than Austria, but we will play our game, we have time to prepare, to improve our communication. I think new guys are all great guys, we have chemistry and we played good defence, so I am expecting similar approach against Georgia. They played on this EuroBasket, so that game will be more difficult but, as I said, we will play our game”, finished Marko Simonović.
Dejan Todorović, from Bilbao Basket was also a newcomer and on the court he was as confident as it was something normal, nothing new for him. Todorović finished the game with 8 points, but he made two three point shots, one after the other.
“I am happy to be here, and at first, on practices it was strange to play with all those guys, so it was difficult at first, but tonight we did everything as coach told us to do and we won. I am glad to be part of this team, you know I played with lots of great players during my career but this is totally different thing, to play with those guys for Serbia. I am glad, they are all great guys and I can learn a lot form them”, said Todorović after the match.
Raduljica was also in the mood to talk to Media and he was happy they won, but for him it wasn’t a surprise.
“I am happy to be in Serbia, and to be with these guys, some of them I played before and with some new faces. But we showed that this is our house and we didn’t allow any surprise tonight. This is totally different team than we had before, than we had on previous EuroBasket in Turkey, but these guys showed team spirit and we are all here for one goal – to book ticket for MundoBasket, but we are taking step by step. Next game is against Georgia, we have to prepare for that game, I am not sure who will play for them, but I am sure Monday’s game will be more difficult than against Austria. Although it is more serious team, we will play our game and we are all hoping we will win”, said Raduljica, member of Jiangsu Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association.