FIBA World Cup

Bogdanovic honors Serbian teammates who answered World Cup call: ‘One of the best groups of guys’

Delfin Dioquino

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Bogdanovic honors Serbian teammates who answered World Cup call: ‘One of the best groups of guys’

HAPPY. Serbia's Bogdan Bogdanovic celebrates after their win against Canada in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Eloisa Lopez/REUTERS

Bogdan Bogdanovic and Serbia torch a loaded Canada squad featuring seven NBA players to secure their place in the FIBA World Cup finale

MANILA, Philippines – Bogdan Bogdanovic paid tribute to the players who answered the call for Serbia as the Orlovi moved on the cusp of their first FIBA World Cup crown.

Bogdanovic and Serbia torched a loaded Canada squad featuring seven NBA players with a red-hot shooting display in a 95-86 victory at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, September 8, to secure their place in the finale.

“It’s an opportunity for the other guys. If you’re in, you’re in. If you’re out, you’re out. That’s fair and that’s very professional,” said Bogdanovic, who finished with 23 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals against the Canadians.

The absence of several key players raised concerns whether Serbia can make a deep run in the 32-team tournament.

After all, the Orlovi were without arguably their best player in Nikola Jokic, who opted to skip the World Cup to rest after leading the Denver Nuggets to a historic NBA championship.

Other team standouts missing were Houston Rockets big man Boban Marjanovic and former EuroLeague MVP Nemanja Bjelica.

Among all the four semifinalists, Serbia has the fewest active NBA players in its roster with two in Bogdanovic and Nikola Jovic.

Still, the Serbians took those who stood in their path to school, eliminating a Canada side led by All-NBA First Team member Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to reach the World Cup final for the second time in three editions.

“They saw this as an opportunity, they didn’t see this as pressure. To get to play at the World Cup, you get a couple chances in life. I think this is one of the best groups of guys I’ve worked with,” said Bogdanovic.

Bogdanovic, though, said there are no hard feelings towards players who turned down the offer to represent the country in the World Cup.

“We respect everyone that came here and [those who] couldn’t as well. We’re still friends, we still love them, we need them,” said Bogdanovic.

“I’m just happy for the guys. We went through all this. In the end, we are in the finals.”

A member of the Serbia crew that won silver in 2014, Bogdanovic hopes to get the job done this time as the Orlovi face either the USA or Germany in the championship game on Sunday, September 10. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.