Manila (dpa) – Svetislav Pesic can become world champion again when he turns 74. The veteran coach led the Serbian national team to the final match of the Basketball World Cup on Friday in Manila, with a score of 95:86 (52:39) over favorite Canada, and is only one victory away from another coronation after 2002.
This summer, Serbia will be without NBA champion Nikola Jokic, who is currently considered the best player in the world. Three-point specialist Bogdan Bogdanovic (23 points) was the best shooter for the Serb, who will win a medal in a major event for the first time since 2017.
“It doesn’t matter who our opponent is”
The final will be against the winner of the USA-Germany match. Pesic became world champion with Yugoslavia in 2002, as well as European champion with Germany in 1993 and Yugoslavia in 2001. His team, operating as a team, surprisingly held up against the Canadian NBA all-star team led by Shay Gilgios Alexander. Gilgios Alexander, the MVP of the tournament so far, scored 15 points and had 10 assists in front of 8,630 spectators at the Mall of Asia Arena. Teammate RJ Barrett (23 points) started very late.
“I’m very proud of my players and my team. This is a great win. What is the reason why we played so well again? We defended very well, especially against Shay. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen,” said coach Pesic. He added: “The final is the final. It does not matter who our opponent is.”
The Canadians had previously defeated European favorites France, Spain and Slovenia around star player Luka Doncic in the tournament and were seen as tough opponents to favorites USA. Now it’s about bronze. It will be Canada’s first world championship medal.
© dpa-infocom, dpa:230908-99-120355/4
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