Credit: Imago-Images - Scanpix
Credit Imago-Images - Scanpix

Following the defeat in Riga and ahead of the next home match against Belgium in Group A of the World Cup European Qualifiers, Svetislav Pesic delivered an extensive press conference where he touched on many problems he is facing.

"We are preparing for the match against Belgium as best we can. But the continuity of the team is at risk," the 72-year-old started, via Mozzart Sport. "It's important to note that 23 different players joined the Serbian national team during two matches against Latvia in Belgrade and Riga respectively. This is proof that there is no continuity.

It's an alarming situation. In general, it's an alarming situation where Serbian basketball is," he continued. "There is constant talk about the gold medals from 2001 and 2002. There were great results after that, although many may not recognize them and I just don't understand why so.

In EuroBasket 2001, we played in the quarterfinals against Latvia and won 114-78. Today, 20 years later, Latvia is an opponent against whom we have to give our best to beat them. Basketball is a global sport, everyone is improving."

This monologue was followed by a question of what are the specific problems of Serbian basketball.

"We live in the past. We don't consider that other countries are developing," Pesic said. "The reigning European champions are Slovenians. They also played at Tokyo Olympics and advanced to the semifinals.

We weren't champions of Europe and we weren't in Tokyo last summer. They started preparations a long time ago. Our main opponent Latvia also started the training process on June 15. They have provided the conditions to train like in my time.

Just look at the example of Croatia. It's a national team that has not won a medal since 1995. I warn you, if things do not change in Serbian basketball, we won't win medals either. There won't be any quarterfinals or semifinals, not to mention medals.

I led the famous Yugoslavian national team that won the gold in Bormio in 1987 [U-19 World Championship]. During the club season, we had control training with those boys. In our country now, when some training sessions are held, half of them don't show up. Something like that doesn't happen in Spain or Germany, where I was a coach. Everything has changed quite a bit, starting with Zvezda and Partizan. It all came down to Belgrade.

All important things happen in Belgrade. Let's face it, not everything was perfect about the national team before. There were problems, but then those problems were understood as challenges. We don't have that now. We have to work on it, I'm working on it, I'm trying. Maybe some people don't like it, but what can I do. I do what I know, and I think I know a lot when it comes to this matter.

The Zvezda-Partizan rivalry must be forgotten. Everything must be merged into the Serbian flag. As an association, we talked with the clubs to help us and I'm not against Partizan or Zvezda. I'm rooting for all of them to achieve great results. I expect them to give us players to help the national team in November and February," Pesic expanded on the Serbian basketball problems.

Another topic in the press conference was Nikola Jokic. Pesic explained when he expects the NBA regular-season MVP to join the squad.

"According to the NBA and FIBA ​​contract, there are 28 days during which players can be with the national team. Before it was 35, now it's 28. If Jokic would play in this FIBA window, then he wouldn't be able to start preparation on August 4 for the EuroBasket 2022. He has already started his individual preparation. I should say right away that he is one of the few who sent me a message to wish me luck against Latvia."

Svetislav Pesic then referred to Bogdan Bogdanovic and other Serbian NBA players.

"Bogdanovic is injured, we don't even know if he will play in EuroBasket. The doctors are in contact with him. Pokusevski did not receive Oklahoma's permission to play in the European Qualifiers. It would be important for him to be introduced to the national team system. He is a candidate for EuroBasket.

Bjelica and Marjanovic are here. Nemanja Bjelica is a free agent and the aforementioned rules do not apply to him. The situation with Doncic and Slovenia is different because he came and said, 'I'm playing'. Dallas paid the insurance from the first day of preparation. These are things we simply cannot influence," Pesic underlined.

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