Surprisingly, Serbia easily beat the Canadians in the FIBA World Cup final
The Serbian national team was the first finalist in the men’s basketball world championship, defeating one of the tournament’s surprises, Canada, 95-86, in a smoother-than-expected game on Friday.
The overseas team, made up of seven NBA players, reached their first World Cup final, while the Balkan team attempted to reach a second final in the last three World Cup finals. The Serbs – still known as Serbia and Montenegro – celebrated World Cup victories in 1998 and 2002, and in the latter tournament Svetislav Pesic, who still manages the team, sat on the bench. The 74-year-old coaching legend was also Adam Hanga’s coach at Barcelona.
Both teams were missing their biggest stars, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, who became NBA champions together in June with the Denver Nuggets, but neither of whom went to the World Cup.
In the previous tournament in 2019, No. 21 Canada led just 13-12, but the Europeans turned it around on an 11-0 run to take a 15-point lead at 52-37. After the break, the Canadians could only catch up with eight points, as they could not cope with the excellent defensive work of the Serbs, and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Bogdan Bogdanovic (Atlanta Hawks), who finished with 23 points.
Among the North American national team, RJ Barrett also excelled with 23 points, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was mentioned as one of the contenders for the tournament’s best title, scored only 15 points.
The Serbs will face the United States or Germany in the final on Sunday.
Serbia-Canada 95-86 (23-15, 29-24, 23-24, 20-23)
Bogdan Bogdanovic played as captain in the semi-final (Photo: EPA/Francis R Malaszej)