12 - 20
August 2016
12 Filip PETRUSEV (Serbia)
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This is a new Serbia with new team chemistry - Petrusev

BELGRADE (FIBA U16 European Championship 2016) - Serbia go into the FIBA U16 European Championship 2016 with the extra motivation of making sure the poor results from last summer are not repeated. 

Despite missing one or two players, Serbia had a talented 1999 generation in 2015 but were bounced in the Quarter-Finals and then most disappointingly failed to qualify for this summer's FIBA U17 World Championship as they finished eighth. Filip Petrusev is not worried about Serbia getting tripped at the same spot again this year. 

"It gives us motivation because that eighth place from last year is a bad result for Serbia. Serbia is always considered as a candidate for medals - every time we play," Petrusev said. "So yes, it gives us motivation, but we are confident that we will do better this year."

Petrusev and Marko Pecarski were the two 2000-born players on last summer's Serbia team, which lost to Turkey in the Quarter-Finals and then Finland in the Classification Game for 5th to 8th Place, which meant missing the FIBA U17 World Championship.

"We don't really care or look back on that tournament because this is a new team with new staff and better team chemistry and mentality," said Petrusev, who averaged 3.8 points and 5.6 rebounds at last summer's FIBA U16 European Championship. "So I think this tournament will be completely different for us."

Filip Petrusev hopes to help Serbia to their first U16 title since 2007.

Serbia's last FIBA U16 European Championship title dates back to 2007 and the storied nation has only collected three podium finishes since then - third in 2009 and 2012, and second in 2013. That isn't stopping Petrusev from having high hopes about the tournament from 12-20 August in Radom, Poland. 

"The expectations are high because we have a good team," the Belgrade-native said. "We are doing a good job in our preparation for Radom and we also played a tough tournament in Turkey this year in January."

Serbia reached the final of the TBF International U16 Tournament earlier this year, before losing to Lithuania - a result which gives the Serbs confidence.

"We have seen that we have the quality to play against every team. That gives us the right to hope that we can win even the title," said Petrusev, who averaged 16.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 blocks in the tournament in Turkey. 

"We don't have any pressure because I think we already proved our quality. For this tournament, the only thing we are thinking about is winning a medal."

Petrusev will bring with him a different experience at club level than his teammates, as he has already spent two seasons in Spain with Laboral Kuxta Vitoria, having previously playing with Partizan Belgrade. 

"We don't really care or look back on that tournament (last summer's FIBA U16 European Championship) because this is a new team with new staff and better team chemistry and mentality. So I think this tournament will be completely different for us." - Petrusev

"I decided to move to Spain because of better conditions that I have there. I can go to school and practice without missing some classes. I also like how they work with young guys that they bring there," Petrusev said. 

"There are no big differences. In Spain they are playing a bit faster with more possessions and fast-breaks while in Serbia they play a little bit slower. But nothing else."

When asked what Serbia will need to do to hoist the trophy on 20 August in Radom, Petrusev said the team must play smart.

"We must give 100% in every single game; be concentrated in difficult moments; play as a team; and have a little bit of luck," he said. "Here in Serbia we say that luck follows the brave. So I hope we'll have luck too because you always need it."