MANILA, Philippines — Always a bridesmaid, never the bride.
As cliche as it sounds, that’s been the story of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Serbia in two of their last three appearances in the Fiba World Cup.
After losing to a star-studded USA team back in the 2014 final in Spain, Serbia lost in the gold medal game again on Sunday to first-time winner Germany, 83-77, at Mall of Asia Arena.
“I’ll be happy to get the gold as well and to finish the tournament with a win. But, unfortunately, sometimes the luck is not on your side, you miss some shots, you miss some of the opportunities but that’s [the] game of basketball, that’s how it works,” Bogdanovic told reporters.
Bogdanovic came out firing for Serbia with 17 points in the first half but the Atlanta Hawks shooting guard was limited to just two points in the last two quarters due to foul trouble.
Despite another silver medal finish, the 31-year-old captain held his head high after Serbia was able to reach the final despite missing its biggest star Nikola Jokic.
“I’m just happy and proud of this guys, you know, since day one nobody believes in this group and we’re just working hard since day one and we achieved something I think,”’ said Bogdanovic, who was also part of the Serbian team that finished second to the United States in the 2016 Rio Olympics. “It’s all good. I’m really happy about the guys. As I said, when we started the preparation, I’m just happy that we responded that way.”
“I think we beat a lot of good teams. Lithuania, as well, was good. I’m just happy with the guys. One of the best groups I worked with,” he added.
On its way to the final, Serbia swept the group phase, then eliminated a tough Dominican Republic team to make the quarterfinal where it crushed Lithuania before it knocked off a formidable Canada side in the semifinal.
“I think the rise of the international basketball, the way the all national teams are playing this Fiba tournament comparing to when I started playing, it’s rising and it’s getting tougher and tougher,” he said. “There are no easy games, easy opponents. Everybody is getting ready for something. Everybody needs to qualify for something and then everybody fights for medals so Fiba is tough.”
Bogdanovic, who was part of the All-Fiba World Cup Team for the second consecutive time, also heaped praise on World Cup MVP Dennis Schroder and Germany.
“They have experience. They built this team over the years and I’ve been watching them. I know a lot of guys (from them) and they have been together for years. Congrats to them, really they are tough opponents. They won every single game in this tournament. They’ve played tough teams since the beginning. They deserve it, honestly,” Bogdanovic said.
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