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July 2017
10 Ognjen JARAMAZ (Serbia); 12 Aleksandar BURSAC (Serbia)
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Back at helm of U20 Serbia, Djokic looks for success with talented roster

BELGRADE (FIBA U20 European Championship) - The last time Vladimir Djokic coached a Serbian national team, the head coach guided the Serbs to the title at the FIBA U20 European Championship 2015. Djokic is hoping to return to the top of the podium this summer in Crete with a talent-filled roster.

The 46-year-old coach has called a 17-man preliminary roster to the start of training camp on Tuesday, June 13, with the goal of hoisting the trophy at the July 15-23 tournament in Greece, where Serbia will take on Italy, Slovenia and Spain in Group D.

"It is a great honor and responsibility for me to be with the national team and I am always ready to do all I can and participate in the action with a lot of energy," said Djokic, who coached this season at Vrsac in the Serbian KLS league.

Djokic created a formidable unit without any major big names in Lignano in 2015 as he guided the Serbs to their first U20 crown since 2008. This time around, there are plenty of highly-regarded names in the 1997 and 1998 generations.

The biggest names are Varja Marinkovic of Partizan, Borisa Simanic from Crvena Zvezda, FMP's Aleksa Radanov and Milos Glisic of Vrsac as well as Barcelona's Stefan Peno.

Serbia's preliminary squad for FIBA U20 European Championship 2017
Nikola Cirkovic Stefan Djordjevic Luka Filipovic Milos Glisic Slobodan Jovanovic
Stefan Kenic Vanja Marinkovic Novak Music Stefan Peno Aleksa Radanov
Matija Radovic Borisa Simanic Djordjije Sljivancanin Dimitrije Spasojevic Aleksa Stepanovic
Nikola Tanaskovic Luka Vasic      

Peno and Varinkovic teamed up three summers ago to grab third place at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2014 along with U20 nominees Nikola Cirkovic, Slobodan Jovanovic and Stefan Kenic.

"The European Championship on Crete will be played by the 1997 generation and it will carry the load. I don't want to look back on what we did in Lignano. We are still proud of the feat, but now the focus is on this generation and we will do everything to justify the call-up for the national team. We need to prepare well, play well and reach the highest-possible placing," Djokic said. 

The 1997-98 generation also grabbed second place at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2013, while Marinkovic and Peno teamed up to take second at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2014.

In Crete, Djokic will be missing a few players as Vojislav Stojanovic, Aleksandar Aranitovic and Nikola Rakicevic are all injured, while Mladen Armus is unavailable because he will attend college in the United States later this year. All four of those players - Aranitovic being the only 1998 born of the group - were on the U17 team at Dubai 2014.

"We have a good roster, unfortunately also some injured players, but we are motivated and optimistic that we can be successful," Djokic said.

Serbia struggled last year at all three youth levels in Europe, finishing 10th at the FIBA U16 and U18 European Championships and taking 11th place last summer at the FIBA U20 European Championship.