Serbia’s unselfish play in Fiba World Cup campaign earns Pau Gasol’s praise
MANILA, Philippines—Serbia has earned the admiration of Fiba ambassador and NBA legend Pau Gasol in their magical trip to the 2023 World Cup Final.
In a talk show organized by Fiba at Sofitel Manila on Saturday, Gasol lauded the Serbians who are playing the gold medal match against Germany at Mall of Asia Arena, tomorrow.
“Serbia has earned their way into this final game and a chance to fight for a gold medal,” said the former Los Angeles Laker. “Even without (Nikola) Jokic and some other great players, the unity and team play overcame [the need for] individual talents of that team.”
— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) September 9, 2023
In turn, it has been Bogdan Bogdanovic who has consistently stepped up for the Serbians, coming alive on the scoring end every time he was needed.
After all, just relying on strictly one player is not in Serbia’s playbook and Gasol certainly took notice of it.
“Here today, it’s not so much about individuals and talents, obviously, that helps but it’s all about teams playing together, believing, fighting, communicating, defending every single play, fighting for every ball, getting excited and putting it on for each other, that’s valuable.”
One of the unsung heroes of the Serbians’ magical run is, of course, head coach Svetislav Pesic.
So when given the chance to analyze Serbia’s run in the this World Cup, Gasol was quick to give Pesic his due.
“To me, one of the stories we haven’t mentioned is Pesic being the coach. He was the coach that won the 2002 World Cup for Serbia 21 years ago and he’s the head coach that’s playing in the final now,” explained the Hall of Famer.
Pesic, who is already 74 years old, steered then-Yugoslavia to the title in 2002 where Dejan Bodiroga shone in the Final against Argentina, 84-77, with 27 points.
Since then, the Fiba Hall of Famer has gone on to coach other basketball clubs in Europe including FC Barcelona, Alba Berlin and Bayern Munich, among others.
Pesic is also the lone mentor who won two EuroBasket for two different countries in Yugoslavia and Germany.
Now, the veteran tactician has a chance to extend his long list of accolades as he calls the shots for the Serbians once again in a World Cup final.
“What an amazing coach. He coached my brother once and I got to know him personally. I give him a lot of credit.”