FIBA: Serbia bests New Zealand in Pre-World Cup friendly


Preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup is drawing to a close as the tournament is set to begin in less than a week.

The Serbian National Team capped off the weekend with a successful 88-78 dismantling of the New Zealand Tall Blacks in a four-nation tournament in Shenyang, China.

The Serbians’ size and presence in the paint were simply too much for New Zealand to handle and contend with. Serbian big men Nikola Milutinov and Boban Marjanovic played like an unstoppable duo in the shaded area. They posted with their backs to the basket and pretty much scored at will on offense while creating a “No Man’s Land” in the paint on the defensive end. All told, considering the size mismatch, the New Zealanders put up a laudable effort as they fine-tuned their strategies for the upcoming FIBA World Cup.

Serbia is looking sharp, providing fans with a preview of what should be a dominant performance in the World Cup. Oddsmakers have them owning the second-best odds to win the gold (2-1), trailing only the United States (4/7). Greece holds the third-best chance odds at 10-1.

Serbia’s size and could play a role should they wind up facing the United States at some point in the tournament. Team USA is bringing a small-ball structured roster, with Myles Turner and Brook Lopez as their only “true” centers. Both men, who can shoot the three-ball are actually modern-day stretch fives in the NBA. Still can block shots on defense, but neither man was able to average eight rebounds per game in 2018-19.

Crashing the glass and outrebounding the Americans could be a key factor for Serbia. First, they will have to put up an impressive showing in Group D, where they are facing Italy, Angola and the Philippines.

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