22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
Game Report
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Two-day drama ends: Belgium complete sweep over Serbia

MUNICH (Germany) - Serbia and Belgium started their duel on Sunday, and saw it finish more than 24 hours later on Monday. The lights went out in Serbia literally as the game started and Belgium made sure the lights go out metaphorically as the game ended.

Serbia held a 10-point lead with just four minutes left to play, but they learned a lesson about a typical Dario Gjergja-coached team, be it on national team level or on the club level. His teams are stubborn. If Gjergja is on the sideline, don't expect the white towel at any point.

"We never stopped believing," the hero on the court Emmanuel Lecomte said.

The explosive point guard came up big in the clutch minutes. At 71-61 from Serbia's point of view, the Belgian comeback started with a Hans Vanwijn layup. Maxime De Zeeuw knocked down a triple on the next offense. Lecomte added another one two possessions later. Lecomte got an and-one to complete the 11-0 run which got Belgium the lead heading into the last 120 seconds of the game.

Serbia did briefly retake the lead on Ognjen Jaramaz's free throws.

But with the game on the line, coach Gjergja dialed Lecomte's number once more. The 26-year-old picked up the phone and understood the message, getting the game-winning layup to set the final score at 74-73 about 26 hours after the tip-off.

"The conditions were tough. These last two days were really long for both teams, but one thing I can say: we were ready mentally," Lecomte said.

The game tipped off at 19:00 local time on Sunday, but after just two minutes and six seconds of action, the arena went dark in Nis, Serbia. The lighting system could not be restarted soon enough and the teams came back to play at 19:00 on Monday, resuming with the 6-3 score from the day before.

You he players really wanted to give it another go on the basketball floor.

"We really wanted to play this team, one of the best nations in the world. We were excited, confident and it showed today," Lecomte explained.


"We wanted to stay in the game as long as possible," Dario Gjergja added. "Even at -10 we believed, continued to play decent defense and control the board. We bounced back, step by step. We still miss some guys, like Serbia miss a lot of them. Very happy for this group of guys, I will not say my players, but OUR players."

Belgium completed the sweep over Serbia, and since they ended the First Round up at 4-2, compared to Serbia's 3-3 record, it puts them two games ahead. In other words, Serbia might need to win two games more than Belgium to be in front of them come the end of the Second Round. In other other words, the Belgian Lions are so close to reaching the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.

Serbia, on the other hand, have a mountain to climb now.

"With attitude, with desire to win the game, with our aggressiveness, with team spirit, we can be satisfied with that. But we wanted to win the game. We were over-motivated in some moments, wanted to win the game immediately, and that's the reason why sometimes we didn't make the best decisions. Especially on offense," Svetislav Pesic offered.

"Our alarms have been on for a long time now," he replied to questions about the whole situation becoming alarming for Serbia.

Since only three teams were in Group B, teams from Group A had their results against the bottom-placed squad erased. Latvia and Greece lead the newly formed Group I at 3-1, Belgium and Turkey break even at 2-2, as Serbia and Great Britain start at 1-3.