12 - 20
August 2016
15 Marko Pecarski (SRB)
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Pecarski admits Serbia have fallen short of expectations

RADOM (FIBA U16 European Championship 2016) - Marko Pecarski has made his mark on the tournament with his undeniable talent clear to see, but was unable to prevent Serbia from falling at the Round of 16 stage.

The 75-60 loss on Tuesday against rivals, Montenegro, marked the first time in five years that Serbia had not made the Quarter-Finals at U16 level.

And it is not something that resonates well with Pecarski as the overwhelming sense of disappointment kicked in following a third defeat in a row.

"We have not come close to our expectations," he said having scored a personal tournament-best of 30 points in the defeat.

"We had a good chance to win and we are very disappointed not to be playing in the Quarter-Finals.

"It is very hard for us right now because Serbia are one of the best basketball nations and we should be playing in the big games.

"I gave everything I had to help the team, but it was not enough."

"It makes it very hard when we lose because I feel like I could have done more." - Marko Pecarski

Serbia arrived in Radom as medal contenders but lost Filip Petrusev to injury in the opening game which resulted in the end of his tournament.

The 2.07m forward was a returning player from last year’s squad and was expected to form an imposing front-court partnership with Pecarski.

That hope quickly diminished with Petrusev on his way back to Belgrade on the second morning.

"[Filip] was a with us in all of our preparation in the summer and was a big part of this team," declared Pecarski.

"So to lose one of our best players was very tough for us."

Pecarski shouldered an even heavier than anticipated work load for his side but needed more support.

Consecutive double-doubles - including a stellar 27 points and 16 rebounds against Finland - were in vain as Serbia dropped to 1-2 in the Group Phase after opening with victory over Estonia.

The challenge of leading the team was accepted by the Gijon-born forward and it was something he relished rather than endured.

"I like the responsibility," he said. "Whatever team I play on, I like to be one of the leaders and try to be the best player.

"It makes it very hard when we lose because I feel like I could have done more."

One of his greatest attributes has been finding a number of different ways to score.

Pecarski draws comparisons with his game to the likes of NBA superstars Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki and some of their traits are evident in his style of play. 

Not only is he an assertive presence in the paint, but Pecarski displays a soft touch with an effective jumpshot from mid-range that can extend beyond the three-point line when the opportunity presents itself.

Despite leading the tournament with averages of 25.8 points and 13.8 rebounds per game, Serbia’s captain would much rather be preparing for another Quarter-Final having featured in the loss against Turkey in 2015.

"I am pleased with the way I have played, but I would like it a lot more if we win.

"I felt a lot less pressure [this year] because I have already played in the competition before. Many of my team-mates haven’t but for me, this made it easier."

Although the disappointment will be fresh in the minds, the onus is now on securing their Division A status.

Serbia will be plunged into an unlikely scrap for survival should they lose a fourth consecutive game when they take on the hosts, Poland, in the Classification Round for 9th to 16th Place.

"Even though we cannot compete for the highest prize, we have to re-focus and try to win our next game," said Pecarski.

"It is very important for us to be in Division A - that is where Serbia belongs."