It’s been a long time since so many stars decided no to play for Team USA and prepare for the upcoming season. With the Warriors coming back to Earth and “only” having a two-time MPV and one of the most intelligent basketball players of all time on their roster the Finals seem reachable, and everyone is gearing up to grab that Larry O’.
That gave a second group of teams reason to think “why not us?” – national teams preparing for the upcoming World Cup. While Team USA is still the clear favorite, they seem mortal. The only All-Star players on the team are Kemba Walker, Kris Middleton, and Kyle Lowry. Great players, but not the level of LeBron, Curry, and Durant.
Their biggest competitor? Serbia. Unlike US players, playing for your national team is the highest honor a player can achieve and the Serbian roster shows it. Nikola Jokić, Bogdan Bogdanović, Miloš Teodosić, Nemanja Bijelica, and Boban Marijanović are all names NBA fans will recognize. They will all be playing for their country – and present a real threat for Team USA. One advantage all other international teams have is they’ve been playing together since they were kids. These guys don’t need a lot of practice to work as a unit.
The first thing you need is confidence. If you walk into a match and don’t think you have a fair chance, you already lost. Serbian team coach Aleksandar Đorđević knows that and it is apparent he is working on that from day 1. Serbia is coming to win the gold.
“Let’s let them [Team USA] play their basketball and we will play ours and if we meet, may God help them,” Djordjevic said in a semi-serious tone, during an interview for the Serbian national television (RTS)
You may not have plans to watch a lot of World Cup basketball, but if Team USA is playing Serbia, that will be a must-watch event.