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Bogdan Bogdanovic eager to motivate new generations of Serbian ballers
BELGRADE (Serbia) - Put Bogdan Bogdanovic on a team, and it is highly likely that you are seeing at least the Semi-Finals. But winning medals is not the only thing that drives the Serbian guard.
Having received his first call-up in 2010, Bogdanovic helped Serbia reach the FIBA U18 European Championship Semi-Finals, followed it up with a silver medal finish at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup in 2011, and another final four appearance at the FIBA U20 European Championship in 2012.
The run did not end when he put on the senior national team's jersey. In fact, it was Bogdanovic who was behind all of Serbia's success, such as three runners-up finishes in 2014, 2016 and 2017, powering the nation with 20.4 points and 5.0 assists per game during the FIBA EuroBasket 2017.
In fact, the only time when Serbia weren't in the Semi-Finals with Bogdanovic on board was in 2013, as they finished seventh in FIBA EuroBasket in Slovenia. Passion for the national team underlines all of his success in recent years.
"The first time I found out I was selected to be a part of my national team was an amazing feeling. And I can tell you right now, I still get the same goosebumps I got back then, when I'm about to play for the national team," Bogdanovic said.
"FIRST THING YOU HEARD ABOUT WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP - ALL THE BEST PLAYERS, THEY PLAYED FOR THE NATIONAL TEAM."
You need to dig a bit under the surface to learn why. Serbia has always had the tradition of winning in basketball, and doing it in a way which made new generations fall in love with the game. Bogdanovic was six when the former FR Yugoslavia team won the title in 1998. He was 10 when they amazed the world in Indianapolis in 2012. He was on the receiving end of inspiration, now it's time to do something from the other side, as well.
"First thing you heard about when you were growing up - all the best players, they played for the national team. The way they represented the country, it was just awesome. They kind of motivated us at that time. And it feels special that I can motivate kids back in my country now," the Sacramento Kings guard explained.
"You make people proud. They don't even need to play basketball to feel motivated."
Serbia will face Angola, Philippines and Italy in Group D in Foshan. They sound like the group favorite, and the 26-year-old leader knows Serbia will feel optimistic once the team arrives in China.
"I like to play all these types of tournaments which FIBA organizes. (FIBA Basketball) World Cup or the (FIBA EuroBasket), it's always good to play and be there with your guys and compete."