Team profile: Montenegro, land of giants, focusing on frontcourt firepower
MANILA (Philippines) - Montenegro, as the second tallest nation in the world on average, will bring all the centimeters and inches to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 searching for an improvement on their 25th-place finish in China in 2019.
An average male from the Netherlands is 183.78 centimeters (6'0'') tall, closely followed by an average Montenegrin at 183.30. Being the second tallest nation in the world, and the tallest among the 32 at the World Cup, it's no wonder Montenegro have a loaded frontcourt. They are powered by the twin towers Nikola Vucevic and Bojan Dubljevic, with Nemanja Radovic and Marko Simonovic waiting for their chance off the bench.
Vladimir Mihailovic has got a flamethrower of a shot from the outside, and Kendrick Perry will bring a bit of electricity to the backcourt with elite hands and quickness that have made him a force in Europe for the last eight years.
Are they happy to be here or want more than just another appearance at the summit? Because it felt like a lot of that Qualifiers energy was missing in China 2019, when Montenegro settled for an 0-3 record against Brazil, Greece and New Zealand, eventually getting their sole win over Japan to finish 25th.
It felt like they were happy just being the smallest nation - in terms of population size - to ever qualify for the World Cup.
They aren't the smallest nation anymore, Cape Verde stole that record, so now they can focus on being the tallest. Playing on the small-tall parable, maybe coach Bosko Radovic propels them to new heights by becoming the smallest nation to climb to the top of the group in the World Cup.
Their FIBA EuroBasket 2022 campaign was inspiring with three comfortable wins over Belgium, Bulgaria and group hosts Georgia, and they pushed Germany for 40 minutes in the Round of 16 game in Germany, losing by six.
Bojan Dubljevic at the Qualifiers
Montenegro looked competitive, which was an obvious upgrade to their 2019 run in China. Now that they made their presence at major events a habit, they are in a great position to rise, fight, set new records in terms of finishing in the Top 10 or even higher. It's going to happen, sooner or later, the foundation is there.
If the team can integrate the talent of Nikola Vucevic and stay hungry, good things will happen.
Montenegro, potentially, need to sweep their group against Mexico, Egypt and Lithuania in order to have a chance to reach the Quarter-Finals, because the neighboring group has the USA, and the two teams that defeated Montenegro in 2019 - Greece and New Zealand.
Also, it remains to be seen how the Montenegrin giants adapt to faster opponents, especially Mexico, in the first round.
IN THE LAST 10 FIBA EVENTS
|2022||FIBA EuroBasket||CZE - GEO - ITA - GER||13th|
|2021||Olympics||Tokyo (JPN)||Did not qualify
|2019||FIBA Basketball World Cup||Beijing (CHN)||25th|
|2017||FIBA EuroBasket||FIN - ISR - ROU - TUR||13th|
|2016||Olympics||Rio de Janeiro (BRA)||Did not qualify
|2015||FIBA EuroBasket||FRA - CRO - GER - LAT||Did not qualify|
|2014||FIBA Basketball World Cup||Madrid (ESP)||Did not qualify|
|2013||FIBA EuroBasket||Ljubljana (SLO)||17th|
|2012||Olympics||London (GBR)||Did not qualify
|2011||FIBA EuroBasket||Kaunas (LTU)||21st|
For a deeper look on Montenegro's journey to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, click here.