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Serbia mood positive ahead of opener
GRANADA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Aleksandar Djordjevic believes his squad is in a good way right now.
The coach thinks the players are ready to put in a strong performance at the FIBA Basketball World Cup that his country is going to be proud of.
Djordjevic, who made Luka Mitrovic the final cut from the team to get down to his 12-man roster, is especially encouraged by the players' commitment on defense in the preparation period.
"We have turned into a team in the truest sense of the word," he said.
"(Serbia has a) team unity and fighting spirit that comes from defense.
"We definitely have that. We live and work as one."
While Serbia will start as huge favorites against Egypt in their opener on Saturday and also be favored against Iran in their meeting on 1 September, they will have to pull out all stops to get victories against France (31 August), Brazil (3 September) and Spain (4 September).
All that Djordjevic can guarantee is that his squad is going to be focused, determined and ready to give its all.
"What will we do in Spain?" he said.
"I'm not a good predictor. We do not want to, nor do we have the strength to calculate, but I'd like to win every game.
"You need only to be reminded that we're playing against host Spain, the French who were champions of Europe, Brazil, who do not hide that goal of a medal, (Asia) champions Iran and Egypt, which is our first rival."
His vice-captain, point guard Milos Teodosic, is upbeat about Serbia's prospects.
"I think we're ready," he said.
"We've generally done well in pre-season.
"We played well in tournaments and games, showed great fighting spirit as coach Djordjevic asked us."
As for the departure of Mitrovic, a 2.04m power forward who shone for Serbia at the U20 European Championship last year, Djordjevic said: "These decisions are never easy and not at all pleasant.
"We talked about this when I told him the decision.
"Luka has given this team a lot.
"I think he is certainly a better player than he was at the beginning of the preparation. He plays as a modern four (power forward) which is essential to our basketball.
"We made this decision because of different circumstances, different physical conditions, and opponents that await us at the World Cup."
Serbia squad for FIBA Basketball World Cup: Nenad Krstic, Milos Teodosic, Marko Simonovic, Stefan Jovic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica, Stefan Markovic, Nikola Kalinic, Stefan Bircevic, Miroslav Raduljica, Rasko Katic and Vladimir Stimac.