Bogdanovic writing next chapter of his World Cup scoring legacy
MANILA (Philippines) - Bogdan Bogdanovic has done nothing but prove at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 that his name can be mentioned in the same breath as the very best to have ever played international hoops.
And today was quite a day for him, leading Serbia to the Semi-Finals battling Lithuania in the Quarter-Finals on Tuesday. Four layups in the first quarter were a sign of what's about to come for Lithuania. Bogdanovic attacked the rim relentlessly and left the court with a spectacular 21 points on only 13 field goal attempts, with Serbia advancing to the top four.
However, one of those field goals held a larger meaning. The three-point dagger that put Serbia up 49-38 right before halftime secured Bogdanovic his spot in the 400+ point club in World Cup games.
What's even more special is that he passed the great Drazen Petrovic (399 points scored at the World Cup), another legendary scorer, with that same shot.
Watch out, Dirk (425 points), he's coming for you next!
It might go without saying, however, Bogdanovic is the only active player to be this high on the all-time World Cup scorers list. With 404 points next to his name and the 18th place locked down, he might climb up a few more spots after all is said and done in Manila.
It can actually be expected. In the Semis he'll attempt to become the only player in history to make a 3-pointer in each of his 24 World Cup games since data was tracked in 1994. Goodbye, Kirk Penney (23 consecutive games)!
Check out Bogdanovic's full highlights here from the World Cup:
Nothing new here. What's most impressive, though, is that he's been on this tear since FIBA EuroBasket 2017 when Bogdanovic averaged 20.4 points per game. He followed it up with 22.9 points per game in China at the FIBA World Cup 2019, where he accumulated the most points.
He's currently at 18.8 points per game in this World Cup. Can he average at least 20.0 points per game in two consecutive World Cups? That's something only Oscar Schmidt (1982, 1986 and 1990), Andrew Gaze (1990 and 1994), Dirk Nowitzki (2002 and 2006) and Yao Ming (2002 and 2006) have pulled off. Quite the list, huh?
The World Cup has not been only a smooth ride for him though. Serbia left the Araneta Coliseum on September 1 unsure about their future. They had just lost a tight 76-78 affair against Italy, which meant that their game against the Dominican Republic was a "win or go home" scenario.
Bogdanovic was one of the Serbian players who just couldn't get his shot going against Italy. The wing converted only 4-of-16 shots from the field (1/13 from three) thus he turned to driving the ball hard and made 6-of-6 shots from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
"Honestly, it's not like I'm choosing games, when I'll play well or I'll play bad", he said after the Quarter-Final. "It happens. I'm a man, it's not like I missed intentionally because I expected the USA to lose to Lithuania (laughs). I don't know what happened to me (against Italy), I really believed for each shot that it's going in. It went straight, looked good, and for each shot, I thought to myself, 'Okay, this is the one.' Usually in the NBA, when we're up 15-16 points, I get that one or two triples, we go up by 20-21 and it's game over. However, it did not happen that way here. When we were up 15-16, I took those shots, missed them and the game changed. But that's how it goes, you earn your luck."
On a superficial level, you wouldn't have been able to tell by his 18 points scored that it was some sort of off-night. But that's just Bogdanovic. Nearing his averages one way or another.
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Furthermore, he made sure not to let it happen again. The Atlanta Hawks guard set the tempo early on with 10 points in the first quarter against the Dominican Republic. The opponents never managed to recover, while Bogi drilled 7-of-7 shots from the field in his 20-point performance.
Now, the big question. How will it end this year?
Yet what's certain is that we are enjoying the privilege of watching an all-time great at the peak of his powers.