Marjanovic, Dobric lead Serbia past Philippines in a close win
BELGRADE (Serbia) - In front of a COVID-capacity crowd of 1,250 mostly-home fans, Serbia grabbed a vital 83-76 win over the Philippines. Serbia needed a thrilling finish to withstand the 'Gilas' but the victory nonetheless sees the reigning Olympic silver medalists into the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) Belgrade as the first-place team from Group A to advance to the Semi-Finals.
Igor Kokosov's side was in front from the tip-off till the Rhon Jhay Abarrientos lay-up at 3:50 to go in the fourth quarter, but on the wings of Marjanovic's dominance in the paint, his team finds a way out.
Serbia head coach decided to rest three players from starting a previous line-up due to minor injuries (Nemanja Bjelica, Nikola Kalinic, and Vasilije Micic). But, a massive problem for the home team occurred in the middle of the fourth quarter, when Stefan Jovic helped to leave the floor.
Turning point: After leading the for 36 minutes, Serbia allowed the Gilas to take their first and only lead of the game, 74-73. But, in a similar fashion to Serbia's tournament opening game the previous night, they found a way to win it by closing with a 10-2 run.
Game heroes: After a fantastic season in his club Red Star, Ognjen Dobric continued his growth in a national team jersey, putting up 16 points while going 4-from-7 from the three point line. Boban Marjanovic also showed off his double-double stats mode with 25 buckets and 10 rebounds. Center Ange Kouame shined in the Philippines team with 17 points and 7 rebounds.
☔️ Heavy raining in Belgrade ☔️#FIBAOQT | @KSSrbije— FIBA (@FIBA) June 30, 2021
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Stats don't lie: After a poor three-point shooting night against the Dominican Republic in the tournament opener, the 'Eagles' found some rhythm out beyond the arc, going 9-for-26. Also, the Serbians posted a massive advantage over their rivals in the the paint, 46-28.
"The Philippines played as a team, and I want to congratulate them on that. They fought. Another thing, I wish Jovic a speedy recovery. He left the match early. We want him back as soon as possible. We will know more after the review. We have a lot of new names, and some guys were missing. We didn't react, we overthought. We defended instead of being in an attacking rhythm. It wasn't nice again, but we won." Igor Kokoskov, Serbia head coach.
"At some point, we were relaxed. We played irresponsibly. That resulted in us playing an uncertain ending. We must not allow that," Milos Teodosic, Serbian captain.