- Serbia powered into their first FIBA World Cup final in nine years after securing a 95-86 victory over Canada on Friday
- The 1998 and 2002 winners will be aiming for a third triumph on Sunday as they face Germany
Serbia powered into their first FIBA World Cup final in nine years after securing a 95-86 victory over Canada on Friday. Come Sunday, the European giants will have a medal, whether gold or silver as they face Germany.
Serbia took an 11-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back en route to a convincing victory over Canada in the semifinals. Serbia were red-hot throughout the match, knocking down 62% of its shots, including 71% of 38 twos. On the other hand, Canada hit a respectable 48% of its field goals in the contest.
The Canadians were called for 25 fouls compared to Serbia’s 22. But in the end, they shot more free throws than the eventual match winners Serbia – 27-20.
Atlanta Hawks wing Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 23 points on 12 shots in Serbia’s victory. His teammates Nikola Milutinov and Ognjen Dobric each scored 16 points. They are the best shooting team in the tournament so far, making 55% of its shots prior to Friday’s fixture.
For Canada, New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett was the top scorer with 23 points in Friday’s semifinal in the Philippines’ capital, Manila.
On the other hand, the team’s leading scorer, passer and rebounder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander managed just 15 points, two rebounds and nine assists. This was way below his tournament average of 25 points per game. The 25-year-old was held scoreless in the first 15 minutes of the game amid foul trouble and tight coverage.
Speaking after the loss to Serbia in the FIBA World Cup semifinals, Canada coach Jordi Fernandez said he was proud of his team’s performance.
“I’m proud of my guys. 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. NBA.com quotes Canada coach Jordi Fernandez.
The Serbians have been impressive throughout this tournament despite their best player Nikola Jovic missing out. The two-time NBA MVP and reigning Finals MVP with the Denver Nuggets decided not to play in the event to give himself a rest.
Serbia also had to regroup as the tournament went on after losing reserve forward Borisa Simanic who suffered an injury and needed a kidney removed. The 25-year-old was elbowed in Serbia’s clash against South Sudan.
Speaking after Friday’s victory, wing Marko Guduric said Serbia will fight till the end regardless of who is not in the squad.
“It doesn’t matter who’s not here, it’s all about this group of guys. Whoever’s wearing this Serbian jersey, we never give up. We fight until the end, it’s in our blood.” theScore.com quotes Marko Guduric.
Serbia are the 1998 and 2002 World Cup winners. In 2014, they lost 129-92 to the United States in Madrid, Spain. The European giants will be aiming for a third triumph on Sunday as they face Germany, who beat team USA 113-111.