USA’s Popovich impressed with Serbia: ‘They play the game in a fantastic manner’
What many expected to be the dream gold medal game in the 2019 FIBA World Cup turned out to be just a consolation round match, as both the United States and Serbia faltered in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
USA dropped its assignment to France, 89-79, ending a 58-game winning streak in senior’s basketball competitions (FIBA, Olympics) dating back to 2006. Serbia, on the other hand, lost by 10 as well to Luis Scola and Argentina, 97-87.
Still, fans had something to look forward to in the two countries’ 5th-8th classification phase duel, as it pitted the two world superpowers in a highly-anticipated match-up.
And it was Serbia who took the victory, 94-89 after a superb start which saw them lead 32-7 after the opening quarter. USA tried to battle back, scoring 66 in the next two frames, but Serbia had enough in the bag to book the win.
After the game, USA head coach Gregg Popovich praised Serbia for the way they played basketball throughout the World Cup.
“I’ve been much impressed by their character, their persistence, as they learned how to play together,” said the San Antonio Spurs head coach.
“Tonight was a great example for that. The Serbian team, very great experience, Sasha does a great job with them, but they’re not just talented, they play the game in a fantastic manner.”
Bogdan Bogdanovic fired 28 points together with 4 rebounds and 6 assists in the win. Serbia shot 52.4% overall from the field, hit 15/31 from 3-point distance, and had 26 assists.
“They hit the open man consistently on every single possession. Very good drive and kick team and they are obviously talented so they did a good job, and that’s that,” admitted Popovich.
On the contrary, Team USA shot only 43% from the floor, 35.5% from deep, and had 20 assists. Harrison Barnes had 22 points to lead the squad.
Popovich and the rest of his team will have a shot to salvage 7th place in the tournament on Saturday, against Poland.
It will be the lowest place finish of any USA team since the country started using NBA players to represent their country.